Irish citizens to be repatriated from Italy as Dept continues efforts to fly more than 2,000 home

Irish citizens to be repatriated from Italy as Dept continues efforts to fly more than 2,000 home
File photo.

The Government is trying to help more than 2,000 Irish people return home from 86 countries around the world.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said most of them are in Australia and New Zealand, with the rest in small groups in other countries.

It said: “We are witnessing the biggest shutdown in global aviation since the dawn of commercial flight.”

We have never seen anything like it before, it eclipses the shutdowns following the September 11th attacks and the volcanic ash crisis.

The Department also said that situation “is fast-moving and volatile. What we have seen in recent days is not only countries, but entire regions, close off airspace and ground airlines at short notice.”

“This has lead to people who had confirmed and booked flights having them cancelled suddenly or being refused at airports.”

“Currently we are trying to help over 2,000 of our citizens in 86 countries who are seeking assistance to return to Ireland. Many are small groups but the majority at the moment are in Australia with a couple of hundred in New Zealand.”

It comes as Irish people stuck in Italy are to be repatriated to Ireland on Thursday.

More than 500 Italian citizens currently in Ireland are also to be returned home on two flights from Dublin to Rome.

Italian carrier Alitalia says it will operate the services. The flight from Rome to Dublin will repatriate Irish people from Italy.

While flight AZ 241, which will depart from Rome's Fiumicino Airport at 4:55pm tomorrow, will arrive in Dublin at 6:10pm local time.

Alitalia will operate the flight with an Airbus A330 aircraft, a high-capacity aircraft which is usually only operated on long-haul routes.

Alitalia says tickets for the AZ 241 flight are available on its website.

The Government has advised against all non-essential travel in the State and overseas.

While Italy remains classified as a 'Do not travel' zone by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

A spokesperson from the department said we are witnessing the biggest shutdown in aviation history with entire regions closed off at short notice.

She said: “In the case of Australia, we have a significant group traveling commercially through London today and others will travel through Qatar tomorrow. We need to continue to take every seat possible on commercial flights in the coming days.”

“In cases like Peru, where we have an arrangement in place with Aer Lingus and British Airways for a repatriation flight to go in, internal travel remains heavily restricted and many of our citizens are located hundreds of miles away from the international airport. We are working 24 hours to get the necessary transport and permissions in place to move them.”

“We are also working very closely with other European countries, especially the UK, to get Irish groups on their flights. We have worked for example with the UK, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands and Spain in getting our citizens home.”

She said officials understand the stress people stranded abroad are under and will leave no stone unturned in getting them home.

She said: "We are in close ongoing contact with airlines and aviation companies and are exploring all options. There are still commercial flights, some of them multi-stop."

The situation is no longer as simple as chartering flights, we need permission to enter airspace and regions on the way back to Ireland.

"Therefore for the last 24 hours we have been focused on getting every possible Irish citizen on the shrinking number of commercial flights."

"We know this is very stressful for those abroad and their families here but we are leaving no stone unturned in trying to get people home."

The advice is for people to contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate to update them on their situation and to follow closely information on the Embassy Twitter account.

“Any Irish citizen who believes that an Embassy may not be aware of their presence should register online https://www.dfa.ie/travel/citizens-registration/ and email their contact information (full names, email addresses and contact phone numbers). Contact details for all our missions can be found at https://www.dfa.ie/embassies/irish-embassies-abroad/."

“Irish citizens looking for urgent assistance should call our COVID-19 phone line, +353 (0) 1 6131733, this operates from 7 am to 10 pm every day or they can use our web chat facility at https://dfa.ie/travel/contact/. We also recommend continuing to monitor our website at https://www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/coronavirus/, and social media updates from @dfatirl, @dfatravelwise, and the account of the relevant Embassy or Consulate.”

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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