Spanish national airline Iberia announced on Thursday that it is launching a second wave of repatriation flights for Spanish citizens stranded overseas. In collaboration with Spain’s Foreign Ministry and its diplomatic missions abroad, the IAG-owned airline hopes to bring a further 2,000 Spaniards home including those stranded in Sydney and Bangkok.
The Sydney to Madrid flight will depart Australia on April 30 at 16:10 stopping in Bangkok, Thailand, to pick up more passengers. The aircraft will then carry on to Madrid-Barajas Airport with a scheduled landing time of 09:45 on Monday, May 1.
This latest move follows other repatriation flights by Iberia in March that saw the Spanish flag carrier ferry 6,000 passengers on specially chartered flights. Before Spain declared the coronavirus state of emergency in the middle of March, Iberia had already carried 70,000 passengers on regularly scheduled flights back to their home counties.
Iberia flying to new destinations
The new repatriation flights scheduled for the next couple of weeks will see Iberia flying to destinations that it does not usually serve.
These include Sydney, Manila, Bangkok, Praia (Cape Verde), and Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia). On top of the new destinations, Iberia will be returning to the countries of Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Paraguay, and Equatorial Guinea.
In a press release on Iberia’s website the Sales Manager for Spain, Guillermo González Vallina said:
“In this new wave of repatriation flights, we will fly to such places as Manila, Bangkok, Sydney, and Cape Verde, where our Foreign Ministry regards it as necessary to bring Spaniards home.”
The new repatriation flights will also take non-Spanish citizens out of Spain.
When this repatriation program is over at the end of April, Iberia will have flown more than 30 repatriation flights to 20 counties on five continents.
Medical air bridge between Spain and China
In tandem with the rescue flights for Spanish nationals stranded abroad, Iberia is bringing in much-needed medical supplies from China.
While collaborating with Spanish medical technology companies that include the Madrid-based Oesía Group, Iberia has already made nine cargo flights to Shanghai. Iberia now plans to operate a further 20 flights to pick up medical supplies in Shanghai, Shenzhen and other Chinese cities.
Besides the Chinese flights, Iberia was also able to bring in 34 respirators that were given to Spanish hospitals from small businesses in Munich and Brussels.
Coronavirus in Spain
As of today, Spain has been one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, with 191,726 people testing positive for the COVID-19 virus at the time of writing. Of this number, just over 20,000 people have died from the infection. It would now appear after having looked at the numbers, Spain has peaked after a month of lockdown.
By lockdown, I mean only one member of the family being allowed out to go to there nearest supermarket and pharmacy. While these measures may seem extremely tough, most everyone realizes it is for the greater good.
Just the other day, Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, said he would address the congress in Madrid next Wednesday, April 22, and ask for a further extension to the state of emergency.
The speculation is that he will ask for the lockdown to be increased until May 10 one week later than Italy has set for its lockdown to end.