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Air New Zealand and Emirates new repatriations

written by Adam Thorn | July 20, 2020

An Emirates aircraft departs Sydney Airport (Source: Australian Aviation archives)

Air New Zealand and Emirates have become the latest airlines to schedule repatriation flights to locations where residents are struggling to return home.

On Friday, the Kiwi carrier flew 300 of the country’s season fruit pickers back to Samoa while the UAE airline operated a special route between Sydney and Bangkok.

Each year, around 2,000 Samoan workers travel to New Zealand to pick fruit, particularly concentrated in areas such as Hawke’s Bay, Blenheim, Gisborne, Martinborough and the Bay of Plenty.

Air New Zealand has, therefore, collaborated with New Zealand Apples and Pears, the largest employer of seasonal workers, to organise the repatriation.

Flight NZ990, a 787-9, departed Auckland just before 9:00am on 17 July and touched down in Apia at 1:40pm.


An additional flight will depart on 31 July and both have been organised in tandem with the Samoan government and are in addition to fortnightly repatriation flights between the two areas.

Meanwhile, Emirates operated a special repatriation flight between Bangkok and Sydney on Sunday.

The Boeing 777, EK2510, departed at 9:20am and arrived at 3:45pm local time but only Thai citizens and residents were allowed to board.

Currently, most flights into Thailand are suspended with foreigners only allowed to enter or transit in “extremely limited circumstances”. A similar situation is present in Samoa.

Australian citizens and permanent residents, including those with dual nationalities, are still banned from leaving the country unless they have an exemption.

Last month, Australian Aviation reported how Emirates has now resumed flights from Perth and Brisbane for the first time since March, following the UAE’s decision to lift transit restrictions in Dubai airport.

It means the airline, which is also operating out of Sydney and Melbourne, is now offering passenger services to 29 destinations as of Monday including Bahrain, Manchester, Zurich, Vienna, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dublin, New York JFK, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta, Taipei and Hong Kong.

The airline was operating limited flights out of Melbourne, but these have stopped after the airport effectively cancelled all international departures to coincide with the spike in coronavirus cases.

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