Ministry of Foreign Affairs culminates this week repatriation of Spanish tourists affected by flight cancellations

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation concludes the operation this week to repatriate Spanish tourists caught out abroad by the COVID-19 restrictions, with the arrival on Sunday of a flight from Cuba. Before this flight, another plane arrived on Wednesday from Costa Rica and, prior to that, one on Monday from Chile.

There are two additional exceptional flights: one that leaves Caracas on 23 May with 265 passengers on-board, which has been organised and coordinated by the Spanish Embassy in Venezuela; and another extraordinary flight announced yesterday by Iberia from Buenos Aires, to travel under commercial conditions on 21 May.
To reach this point, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation has helped more than 26,000 Spaniards since the outbreak of the pandemic, has chartered some 50 repatriation flights and operations will conclude with more than 8,500 Spaniards repatriated directly with the collaboration of our network of embassies and consular offices.

Most travellers who asked for assistance from our network of embassies and consular offices at the start of the crisis have now managed to return home, and hence we are in a different phase at this time in which we can see that in Europe, commercial air connections to come back to Spain are open, although direct flights have considerably dropped in number. It is also possible to return by land, although it is advisable to contact the corresponding consular office to check out any possible restrictions established by local authorities.

In North America, although this has not been one of the areas to cause the most complications, American Airlines began to operate a direct flight from Dallas to Madrid last week and some airlines are planning to organise more flights as from June. Furthermore, Qatar Airways also plans to operate direct flights to Madrid and Barcelona as from 1 June and a good many airlines will try to recover some routes through which they can offer a service to all those Spaniards that are currently trying to get back to Spain.

Both due to the volume and the period in which the restrictions stemming from COVID-19 have been applied, Latin America has been one of the areas where the largest numbers of Spaniards were located. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation was especially sensitive to the situation there, sending out exclusive messages at the start to Spaniards in the region and arranging the largest number of repatriation flights from there – a total of 32.

It should be remembered that repatriation flights exist to facilitate the return of Spaniards that lack alternatives to leave the country; are in a particularly vulnerable situation; tourists (hence, they have no infrastructure or family support to remain in the country) and residents in Spain who have to return for causes of force majeure. The network of Spanish embassies and consular offices has detected that the profile of most Spaniards does not correspond to these criteria, and hence would not fall under the repatriation phase. Accordingly, Spain interprets that the severe phase of this crisis can be considered finalised, as have our peer countries. However, the embassies and consular office are studying each individual case and trying to offer solutions in each situation through on-going contact with each person affected.



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