Biggest ever peacetime repatriation announced

The UK Government has announced new measures to continue to help British holidaymakers get home from all around the world.

The Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, revealed plans that include special charter flights and a new partnership with the airline industry to help bring people home. According to the Foreign Secretary, hundreds of thousands of British citizens on short term visits are still abroad.

Borders MP, John Lamont, has been helping stranded Borderers with their travel back to the UK, and is liaising directly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Borderers are stuck across the world in places such as the Philippines, Peru, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, as well as short haul destinations in Europe.

The UK Government is spending £75m to enable special charter flights to priority countries bring back UK tourists where commercial flights no longer operate. Such flights have already brought 1400 people home from China, Japan, Cuba, Ghana and Peru.

A new partnership with airlines has also been announced to help those get home where commercial flights are still operating. Virgin, Easyjet, Jet2 and Titan Airways have signed a memorandum of understanding with the UK Government. This will allow passengers to change tickets, including between airlines to make it easier to get home quickly.

To help with the cost of returning home, Dominic Raab also said that travellers will be able to access emergency loans to help with repatriation.

John Lamont MP is encouraging people in the Borders to get in touch with him if they are, or have a family member, who is stuck abroad.

John Lamont MP commented: “Coronavirus has already made our lives very difficult without the worry of having family members stranded in a different country. I have been contacted by dozens of people who are still unable to get home. This announcement will bring comfort to many families who are currently in very distressing situations.

“However, I know that some airlines are still charging eye watering prices to bring people home which is just not good enough. People from the Borders have been telling me that they have been quoted up to £7000 each for economy flights that are usually less than £1000. For most of us, never mind a family on holiday, this is completely unaffordable.

“It is really important that the UK continues to use its diplomatic clout to open up airspace and countries that are in lockdown to help bring Borderers back. This is a very complex situation as transit hubs, as well as the countries where people are stuck, need to be allowing passengers to travel.

“I would urge anyone who is stuck abroad, or knows someone who is, to let me know and I will do all I can to help. I can make sure that the Foreign Office know about you as well as continue to put pressure on them to do all they can to get you home.”