A final rescue flight has seen the last British passengers stuck on nightmare cruise liners riddled with coronavirus back in Britain.
A massive logistics operation has co-ordinated the rescue of 19,180 passengers from 59 cruise ships located across the world.
The final group disembarked from the cruise ship Costa Deliziosa in Genoa, Italy.
The airlift started on February 21 and was hampered by the closing of borders and grounded flight triggered by the coronavirus crisis.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “Ensuring the safety of British nationals overseas is our number one priority, and I am pleased more than 19,000 British cruise ship passengers have now been reunited with their families.
Thousands still stranded
“This repatriation effort would not have been possible without the co-operation of partners across the world, including Japan, Cuba, Italy, Mexico and US, and I am extremely grateful for their assistance.”
However, thousands of British nationals are still marooned in dozens of countries, the Foreign Office has confessed.
Many are elderly or vulnerable due to underlying medical conditions.
Labour MP for Slough Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi has been leading the campaign to repatriate an estimated 25,000 British travellers from India. He reckons the government would need to lay on more than 100 chartered flights to bring them all back to Britain.
“Tens of thousands are stranded in countries like India and Pakistan,” he said.
“The government has adopted a disgraceful slow pace and it will take months to bring them all home.”
South America flights
The Foreign Office waiting list for flights from the Indian Punjab region stands at 6,900 travellers.
Jan Thompson, acting high commissioner to India, tweeted to say it was the “world’s largest lockdown” and clearance had to be sought for each person to leave from multiple authorities over large areas.
Meanwhile, 900 Brits stranded in Argentina, Colombia and The Honduras are expected to fly home during the first week in May.
Foreign Office Minister for the Americas, Wendy Morton said: “These special charter flights will provide a lifeline to hundreds of British travellers who have been stranded in South America.
“We have already brought home over 1,200 British travellers from the region on charter flights and these will return over 900 more.”