All is now set for a flight from the United Kingdom (UK) to take home more than 40 Jamaicans who have spent the past several weeks stuck at sea on the cruise ship Marella Discovery 2, as well as other Jamaicans who have been stranded in that country because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Jamaica Observer has confirmed that the Jamaicans will be returned home on a Boeing 787 charter flight arranged by the UK Government in partnership with the travel company TUI.
“The flight is being organised in partnership with TUI, which is using the outbound leg from the UK to Jamaica to help crew from their cruise ships to get back to the Caribbean. This is enabling us to offer a cost-effective approach to get more British nationals home,” the UK Government announced yesterday.
The UK noted that the flight is headed to Jamaica to collect several British travellers who have been stuck in the island because of the closure of Jamaica’s borders to incoming passenger traffic due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
It will arrive in Jamaica on May 6 and depart Kingston’s Norman Manley International Airport for Heathrow in London on May 7.
British nationals in Jamaica wishing to return on this flight should visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Travel Advice Jamaica Return to the UK web page for further information on how to register.
According to the FCO, priority is initially being given to visitors who are normally resident in the UK, vulnerable passengers including those over 70 years old, and others who have medical requirements.
“Once we have allocated seats to British nationals and their families, we will offer seats to Jamaicans who have Indefinite Leave to Remain and who have lived in the UK in the last year. The most vulnerable will be prioritised,” said the FCO.
“This is our latest flight from the Caribbean. By partnering with TUI, we are going to get British nationals home from Jamaica to be with their families at this challenging time. Our staff in Jamaica will continue to make sure any Britons not on these flights get the support they need,” said UK Overseas Territories Minister Baroness Sugg.
She was supported by Asif Ahmad, British high commissioner to Jamaica.
“This flight will help British nationals stuck in Jamaica to get back to the UK. I encourage all those with an interest to book now as it is unlikely that there will be any further charter flights. I would also like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Jamaican authorities for enabling us to get people home during this crisis,” said Ahmad.
The flight from Jamaica follows UK Government flights announced from The Bahamas, Cuba, and Guyana. More than 11,000 British travellers have now been helped to return to the UK via commercial routes, including more than 4,000 from Jamaica.
The UK Government said it is “working with the airline industry and host governments across the world to bring back British travellers to the UK as part of the plan announced by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab [March 30], with up to £75 million available for special charter flights to priority countries, focused on helping the most vulnerable travellers.”
The flight back to Britain will cost £367 per person, and British citizens who cannot afford the travel cost will be eligible to apply for a “last resort” emergency loan from the UK Government.
Recipients of that loan will be expected to repay once they are back in the UK.
BRITISH RESIDENTS IN JAMAICA HEADING HOME
• The charter flights are for British nationals who normally reside in the UK, as well as their direct dependents. Jamaican citizens with appropriate residency rights will be included. A number of seats will be reserved for those deemed vulnerable.
• To book flights and register their details, British travellers should check the FCO Travel Advice pages (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/jamaica/return-to-the-uk)
• Those who are eligible to fly will be sent information on getting to airports and flight itineraries directly when their seat is confirmed.
• Details regarding luggage allowance, flight costs, and carriers will be available on the booking portal.
• The British High Commission continues to provide consular support to any British traveller who remains in Jamaica.
• Guidance on how to book onto a Government charter flight back to the UK can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/booking-special-charter-flights-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic
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