Samoans stranded in the United States and some European countries will get their first chance to return home after the government approved the first repatriation flight direct from Los Angeles.
It is set for December 11, 2020.
In an interview on TV3Samoa this week, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi confirmed the flight adding there will be more than one flight to accommodate those already registered.
Those in Hawai’i will have to fly to Los Angeles to join the flight along with people currently stranded in Europe.
Tuilaepa said Samoans who cannot make the LA flight will have to make their way to New Zealand where government has planned more repatriation flights from.
Since the COVID-19 lockdown started in March this year, a total of nine repatriation flights have arrived in Samoa bringing 2,357 Samoans, including scholarship students and returning seasonal workers.
The proposed LA flight will be one of five more repatriation flights planned for late October, November and December.
Repatriation flights from New Zealand are scheduled for October 30, November 13 & 27 as well as December 4 & 11.
The PM said 1,350 people have already registered to travel on these flights including Samoans travelling back from Japan, China, India, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Europe and US.
Tuilaepa said protective measures are in place and everyone has to comply with measures laid out by the Ministry of Health, and there is no point waiting this long to return home to families only to bring the virus with them.
“They need to be patient and comply with all the preventative and protection measures in place,” he said.
KHJ News asked the Chairman of the Coronavirus Task Force Iulogologo Joseph Pereira if Samoa has invited American Samoa to be part of this flight to return home those stranded in the US.
His response was, “No. Samoa has not reached out to American Samoa to participate in its planned repatriation flight. “