By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – 14 OCTOBER 2020: The Government has approved a direct flight from Los Angeles to Apia on the 11 December 2020.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi told Radio Polynesia that the flight will also bring those from Europe, Hawaii and the United States so everyone has to fly to LA to get on this chartered flight for Samoa.
He said there will be more than one flight needed to cater for the number of people already registered for the flight, and anyone who cannot get on the direct flight from LA will have to travel to New Zealand to connect to Samoa.
Five more repatriation flights to Samoa
Since the lock down and the closing of Samoa’s international borders in March 2020, nine (9) repatriation flights have brought 2357 Samoans home with 5 more scheduled for late October, November and December.
This includes the direct chartered flight from LA.
The rest of the scheduled flights from New Zealand are scheduled for 30 October, 13 November, 27 November, 4 December and the 11 December.
The number of people registered for these flights is 1350. This number include passengers from Japan, China, India, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Europe and the US.
From Japan 8 scholarship students, 10 coming for work in Samoa, 8 that should have returned earlier and 8 visiting families.
From China, 15 returning scholarship students, 20 coming for work, 60 who should have returned earlier and people visiting families.
There are 11 from India and one from the Philippines.
There are 53 returning students from Fiji. 234 passengers from Europe and the US that includes returning sailors, 25 students, 8 missionaries, 6 who went for medical assistance and 105 visiting families. The number of those yet to return is 378.
From Australia, 16 returning seasonal workers, 14 students, 28 coming for work, 58 missionaries and 188 visiting families, and 217 yet to return.
From New Zealand – 5 deceased bodies and 600 yet to return.
Concern over travelers from infected countries
Concern has been raised over passengers coming from Covid-19 infected countries such as China and India. However Tuilaepa said protective measures are in place.
He said everyone has to comply with measures laid out by the Ministry of Health, and there is no point waiting this long to return home to families only to bring the virus with them.
“They need to be patient and comply with all the preventative and protection measures in place,” he said.