Cruise.co has teamed up with Saga to try and repatriate almost 80 passengers stranded in Lima due to the Coronavirus outbreak – but desperately needs the support from more travel organisers for a rescue flight home to operate.
The cruise retailer had 58 passengers booked on a trip combining the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu, followed by a cruise from Rio back to Venice with MSC Cruises.
The group completed the Inca Trail and managed to get a flight out of Cusco on March 16 down to Lima, but cruise.co could not get them out of Lima to Rio to join the ship before the borders closed, according to managing director Tony Andrews.
The group were put up in the Holiday Inn in Lima and Andrews contacted Abta which put him in touch with Saga, which also had 21 passengers stuck in the Peruvian capital.
“The UK Embassy proposed a flight with Avianca at $3,000 – $3,500 per person, providing enough people booked, but then it all went quiet and we received no further information,” said Andrews.
“But then one of our passengers got Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, involved and the issue was escalated to ministerial level. Further communications with Abta and Saga followed, with everyone pressurising the FCO, and we finally heard that an Air Europa charter had been secured to fly our guests home on Saturday March 21, at £2,000 per person.”
But Andrews says there are currently fewer than 100 passengers booked on the flight and it needs 250 – or the cost will rise significantly and won’t operate.”
“Abta has sent a communication out to all its members to see if anyone else has clients stuck in Lima who could share this flight back and keep the costs down for our passengers,” said Andrews. “We have heard anecdotally that other UK operators and agents have clients there so we need to hear from them urgently.”
Andrews said Cruise.co would cover the flights back for its guests, as it has their hotel and all the meals, but he believes the government should step in and help if more guests can’t be found in time.
“We need more passengers for the flight or the government to contribute.”
- If you have passengers stuck in Lima and would like to share the Air Europa charter with Cruise.co and Saga to get them home, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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