New Zealanders stranded in Peru will be in the skies and returning home, thanks to arrangements made by the New Zealand Government.
The Government has arranged a charter flight for New Zealanders stranded in Peru to depart the country, following agreement with the Chilean government to allow the necessary transit through Chile, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters announced yesterday afternoon.
"Like many travellers around the world at the moment, New Zealanders in Peru have faced the extraordinarily difficult task of getting home with no commercial flights, and no transit options," says Winston.
"On March 24, we advised New Zealanders overseas that they should shelter safely in place if they could not return to New Zealand commercially. However, New Zealanders in Peru are finding it increasingly difficult to shelter safely in place given the complexities of the situation in-country.
"This has been an incredibly complex operation and officials based at the New Zealand Embassy in Santiago and our team in Wellington have been working around the clock to make it happen.
"We appreciate the constructive engagement we have had thus far with the Peruvian government and look forward to working with them over the coming days to bring our people home," says Winston.
"We are also grateful to the Chilean authorities for allowing the flight to make the necessary transit through Santiago.
"This is an issue we are facing the world over. Finding solutions for New Zealanders overseas has been a major focus of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade over the past few weeks. MFAT officials continue to provide support for more than 22,000 New Zealanders registered on SafeTravel.
"The Government is committed to helping New Zealanders overseas where it can. However, in these unprecedented times, Government-assisted departure flights cannot be relied upon to get home. Our message continues to be that where New Zealanders have the option of travelling commercially to get to New Zealand they should seriously pursue that, or shelter in place," he says.
The flight will depart from Lima, with an added domestic connection from Cusco, in Peru. Private tour operators Viva Expeditions and Chimu Adventures will provide assistance to New Zealanders on the ground in Peru, helping transport New Zealanders to the appropriate pickup points. Officials are working on remaining operational requirements, including the exact departure date.
New Zealanders in Peru who are registered on SafeTravel will be emailed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade with details of how to register interest in the flight. New Zealanders in Chile who are registered on SafeTravel will be emailed separately.
All passengers will be required to comply with health screening and have an isolation plan in place, on arrival, in line with Ministry of Health requirements.
"We encourage all New Zealanders overseas to register on SafeTravel immediately and ensure all their details are accurate and up to date," says Winston.