PM Jacinda Ardern grounds mercy flights for trapped travellers

The Government has stopped all mercy flights being organised by Germany and Australia to repatriate their citizens still stuck in New Zealand amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

Our national carrier was being paid by the German Government to help fly 15,000 Germans and EU citizens out of New Zealand. 

They were supposed to fly to Vancouver for a stopover before carrying on to Frankfurt. 

Newshub understands there were up to 25 flights and crew volunteering.

Lufthansa was also expected to fly people back to Europe with a plane landing in New Zealand on Friday morning.

German fliers told Newshub they want to get home as soon as possible.

"I'm happy that some people will get home earlier... I hope that I'm also one of these but I don't know," one says.

The German embassy wanted the flights to take off tomorrow however our Government has put a stop to the plans and any other country wanting to do the same. 

The only mercy flight allowed out is one heading to Germany tomorrow, and that's only because it's taking school children home.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says: "We are first and foremost requiring we have a plan in place for those individuals to move safely around New Zealand to get on flights".

But she says there are no further plans for bringing home New Zealanders who are stuck overseas. 

Naomi Courtney-Tennant is a New Zealander stuck in Peru and for her, a mercy flight is the only way out.

"We heard Germans getting taken home by Air New Zealand and we just think 'couldn't you come to pick us up on your way back' or something like that," she says.  

The lucky few still managing to get back to New Zealand on the routes remaining open are ending their trip home in Auckland hotels. But there are concerns they're not complying with the rules.

The Prime Minister has told police to beef up the monitoring of Kiwis being quarantined in hotels after reports they have been wandering the streets.