Cyprus expects to repatriate some 3000 citizens and legal residents in May, Transport Minister Yianis Karousos told CNA on Monday.
He said that since March 21 when flights were banned, 5,056 were repatriated, 4126 of them between April 13 and May 3.
The repatriation programme will continue as long as the flight ban is in force, he added. Under the government’s four stage lockdown exit roadmap, airports are due to open in June but under conditions and there is uncertainty as to what this may mean.
Karousos cited the case of 80 passengers who had bought tickets to fly to Cyprus from Moscow on a flight that chartered by the Russian government to pick up Russians to take home. This was scheduled for yesterday but then cancelled and will be rescheduled.
The minister said if is not rescheduled by tomorrow, then the ministry will charter a flight to bring them back as it is doing with the UK and Greece.
Flights have been carried out from a number of UK airports including Heathrow, Edinburgh, Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester as well from Athens and Thessaloniki in Greece.
Frankfurt has been used as a meeting point for passengers from more than 25 countries, while Cyprus has also used repatriation flights by other countries sent here to pick up their nationals.
As a result, there have been repatriations from Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. A flight is scheduled from the Netherlands in the next few days.
He said that issues the ministry has dealt with include humanitarian requests so that people can attend the funeral of a first degree relative.
Procedures have changed and authorities now contact those wishing to return to plan their flight. The final list of passengers is then sent to the airline.
Everyone repatriating undergoes a coronavirus tests and spends 14 days in quarantine in facilities designated by the state.