Plan to bring home Irish people stranded in Peru awaiting green light from Lima

Flight ‘will depend on how soon aircraft can be accommodated by Peruvian authorities’

Elizabeth Canavan, Assistant Sec. General, Department of the Taoiseach has announced that 170 Irish citizens are en route to Ireland from Perth. The government are trying to help over 2,000 Irish citizens get home from abroad. Video: RTE News Now

 

The Government’s plan to bring home 135 Irish people stranded in Peru by the country’s coronavirus lockdown is awaiting the green light from the government in Lima.

An email to those stranded sent on Monday morning by the Irish embassy in Chile said the timing of the proposed charter flight out of Lima “will depend on how soon our aircraft can be accommodated by the Peruvian authorities”.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney told RTÉ on Sunday an agreement has been reached between British Airways and Aer Lingus to charter a flight from Lima “in the next few days”. As well as Irish nationals dependants who are entitled to live in Ireland can also take the flight.

The embassy email also said Irish authorities “will confirm details in due course for bus transfers within Peru from agreed locations to the military airport in Lima”. Only an estimated half of the 135 Irish, most of whom are backpackers, are currently in Lima with local travel restrictions preventing the rest making their own way to the capital.

Repatriation will cost each traveller €400 but they will not be required to pay the fare in advance. Anyone diagnosed or showing symptoms of coronavirus, also know as Covid-19, will not be able to travel. At least six people have died of the virus in Peru with another 363 people confirmed infected.

‘Not straightforward’

Mr Coveney told RTÉ that organising the flight out of Peru “is not straighforward”. France and Israel are among the countries that have already sent planes to bring their nationals home. But thousands of other foreigner are still stranded in one of South America’s most popular tourist destinations.

Peru has all but shut its land air and sea frontiers in response to the global pandemic. It announced a strict 15-day stay-in-doors quarantine on March 16th giving foreigners just 24 hours to leave the country. Many were left stranded and have since been reliant on their respective government to come up with a solution to get them out.

On Sunday authorities closed fully the international airport in Lima. Now only flights bringing home Peruvian citizens or coming to evacuate foreign nationals can fly into the country and must land at the capital’s military airbase. Travellers stranded at the international airport were forced to make their way to the base in the hope of their governments sending planes to rescue them.