Yorkshire couple describe 'scramble' to get on repatriation flight out of Peru

The Government is expected to make an announcement on repatriating Britons stranded abroad due to coronavirus imminently, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman has confirmed.

Two repatriation flights arrived at Heathrow from Peru this morning, with Foreign Secretary Dominc Raab confirming two more flights were due to leave the country.

And the PM’s spokesman said this afternoon: “We have been working with airlines on options for government to charter flights.

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“You can expect an announcement on that imminently.”

British Airways handout photo of one of their planes landing in Lima, Peru on Saturday to rescue over 1,000 stranded Britons and bring them home. Photo: British Airways / PA

Two passengers who arrived home from Lima this morning were a Yorkshire couple who spoke of the “scramble” to get to the airport in time after repatriation flights were announced.

“The communication has been pretty bad with the embassy, people started getting emails for their flights yesterday at 5pm, I wasn’t on the manifest [list of passengers] but my partner was,” said a woman from the region named only as Danielle.

“I was ringing the embassy until one in the morning, didn’t get confirmation until three in the morning and had to be at the airport at six and even then I wasn’t on it.”

Her partner Matthew added that there were “hundreds” of stranded citizens at the airport and that the situation had been “stressful” as they waited for information about their flights.

British Airways handout photo of one of their planes landing in Lima, Peru on Saturday to rescue over 1,000 stranded Britons and bring them home. Photo: British Airways / PA

He said: “There was lots of queues, but it was stressful and the police were tetchy at times but we’re home safe and sound.

“You’re sat on the edge of your seat waiting for some news and there was none until the last minute and then there’s a scramble to get your bags together and get to the meeting point.”

Since the outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan, the Foreign Office has helped to bring home almost 1,400 people on specially chartered Government flights from China and Peru and 1,900 people on cruise ships from places including California, Brazil and Japan.

In the last week, the Foreign Office has helped more than 4,000 people to get back from Jamaica and more than 8,500 people to get back from Morocco.

Around 5,000 Britons successfully left Bali after the British team in Indonesia worked with their counterparts to unblock a visa permissions issue.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We recognise British tourists abroad are finding it difficult to return to the UK because of the unprecedented international travel and domestic restrictions that are being introduced around the world – often with very little or no notice.

“The FCO is working around the clock to support British travellers in this situation to allow them to come back to the UK.

“The Government is seeking to keep key transit routes open as long as possible and is in touch with international partners and the airline industry to make this happen.

“Consular staff are supporting those with urgent need while providing travel advice and support to those still abroad.”

Mr Raab is said to have spoken to more than 30 of his counterparts around the world about getting people home.