COVID19: Cyprus ramps up repatriation flights

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Cyprus is stepping up flights to repatriate hundreds of citizens stranded abroad and university students who wish to return home during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos told CNA that two flights have been arranged for Tuesday and Wednesday.

A Cyprus Airways flight departs Tuesday for Kiev and will then fly to Chisinau and Bucharest, to collect 98 people for repatriation.

The flight is expected to return to Larnaca airport at 10 pm.

Karousos said that another Cyprus Airways flight will depart on Wednesday for Frankfurt to collect citizens who assembled from 25 countries, including Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Turkey, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Italy, Estonia and Denmark.

The same plane will also land in Thessaloniki to collect more passengers before returning to Cyprus.

A total of 129 people are expected to return on this flight, scheduled to land at 10.30 pm on Wednesday.

Both flights are sponsored by the Cyprus Hotel Association, which raised around €100,000 to be used for repatriation, Karousos said adding that fuel is paid for by Petrolina.

The Minister of Transport said that there is a plan for daily repatriation flights until April 30.

Priority is given to people belonging to vulnerable groups, young people enrolled in foundation courses and reside in student dormitories.

Apart from London, there will be flights from the UK to bring people back from Scotland and northern England.