Repatriation flights: How do they work and how much do they cost?

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Published 2020-08-26 14:52

Australians abroad are having a hard time being able to find repatriation flights to get back to their home country during the COVID-19 crisis. The government has capped the number of passengers to arrive at the operating airports and airlines are using this to significantly increase their flights. How are repatriation flights being arranged around the world? And what are they costing?

The Australian government has capped the number of passengers to arrive through the main airports everyday. A decision to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The number of passengers, Australian citizens included, to be able to walk through the different airports a day range from 250 to 350. A very limited number of expats are, therefore, able to buy tickets home. Anne Summers, a columnist blocked in New York, explains that because the airlines are able to decide on who to prioritise. And with the demand, the social distancing restrictions 

What are the conditions to be able to board a repatriation flight as an Australian expat?

Until the 24th of October, only 5 airports are operating international flights in Australia, namely Sydney, Perth Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra. There are different limits of passenger arrivals depending on the airport. In Sydney, only 350 passengers are allowed in per day, 525 per week in Perth, 500 passengers per week in Brisbane, same for Adelaide. As for Canberra, depending on the number of flights and the number of passengers on these flights, it is negotiated with the authorities.

You are able to board repatriation flights if you are an Australian citizen or resident. Depending on where in the world you are, there should be up to 7 flights a week. For example, there is a daily repatriation flight from San Francisco to Sydney.

With regards to the cost of repatriation flights, they depend on the airline. However, they are definitely higher than the usual and prices from the United States went up to AUD 20, 000 during the last week.

However, it is important to bear in mind that passengers will be in quarantine for 14 days upon landing in Australia.

How does it work everywhere else around the world?

A lot of countries have opened their borders to international travellers and therefore, there are more frequent flights entering. However, countries are still very much weary of international passengers and you will likely be asked to quarantine for a period of 14 days once arrived.

Most of the borders of African countries are opened and flights are operating flights. While still under close scrutiny, citizens, residents and for some countries even foreign individuals are able to enter the country. Most airlines are operating far less flights than before and the prices remain higher than the usual. 

Several flights are being operated from a plethora of countries to America every week. To be able to board these flights, one has to be an American citizen or resident or be able to explain why the travel is essential. Depending on where you are in the world, there might be an online form to fill to be able to be able to book a spot on the flight. Or you should just be able to book a flight on the website of the airline. Depending on where in the world you are, the price of a ticket can go up to USD 2,500. Upon arrival, passengers are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. It is the same in Canada.

On the other hand, most European countries remain closed to international flights although citizens are frequently being flown home. The European Commission has, actually, increased the budget available to repatriate EU nationals.