The Australian government has committed itself to the funding of approximately 120 further repatriation flights to bring home Australians stranded around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The flights will be operated by Qantas and will take place over the next 12 months as part of a NZ$121 million investment in Australia's consular program announced in this year's budget.
Due to social distancing, each flight will carry around 150 passengers - so in total approximately 18,000 Australians will be returned home. Currently, 34,500 Australians have told authorities they want to get back to Australia.
So far the Australian government has helped in the repatriation of 45,000 of its citizens since the beginning of the pandemic, most of whom would have flown with Qantas, Emirates or Qatar Airways.
The repatriation operation will include flights from India despite the Australian government making it illegal for anyone to attempt to travel to Australia from India, a crime punishable by way of a nearly NZ$70,000 fine.
So far, the New Zealand government has repatriated more than 6000 people from 38 countries.