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Australasia: Coronavirus

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN 35051, tabled on 25 March 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent steps his Department has taken to repatriate UK citizens from (a) Australia and (b) New Zealand during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered on

29 April 2020

The Foreign Secretary announced on 30 March an important new partnership between the Government and airlines to fly home more stranded British travellers, where commercial routes do not exist. The Government will provide up to £75 million financial support to enable special charter flights to priority countries, operated by airlines including Virgin, Easyjet, Jet 2 and Titan. This service has already begun, with flights earlier this week from Ghana and Tunisia.

Our High Commissioner in Canberra has written to the Australian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister on this issue. We are signposting British nationals to commercial flight options and continuing to explore new routes by which they can travel home. We have also set up an online registration tool for any British Nationals in Australia who require our support. Found at: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/australia/return-to-the-uk. Over 50,000 British Nationals have left Australia on commercial flights in the last month.

In New Zealand, the British High Commission in Wellington is fully staffed and doing all it can to support British Nationals at this time, including finding routes home. Our High Commission remains open to issue emergency travel documents. However, given the New Zealand Government's directive on social distancing, we are asking people not to visit our High Commission in Wellington or our Consulate in Auckland in person, and instead reach out via our online webform. https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/new-zealand/coronavirus. Between commercial and charter flights, over 4,200 British Nationals have departed since 31 March.