Cost of repatriating Kiwis due to Covid-19 upheaval could cost taxpayers $14 million

The cost of flying New Zealanders home because of Covid-19 is estimated to add up to $14 million.

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The first of three Government repatriation flights has left New Delhi after nearly 1300 registered for the flights. Source: 1 NEWS

It comes as the Government this afternoon released thousands of documents relating to Covid-19.

So far, 530 people have been helped to get back to New Zealand, either on charter flights or being assisted onto commercial flights, and a number of people have received loans to cover the cost of those flights.

Those who can have been asked to pay: $1500 for flights of up to 4 hours; $3500 for flights 4-14 hours in duration; $5500 for flights over 14 hours.

So far the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has spent $2.3 million on repatriation flights and there are concerns that figure could grow.

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“As employment opportunities dry up, the intentions of New Zealand residents in other countries may change throughout the remainder of 2020.

"Commercial airline options continue to shrink (there are presently 29 direct flights a week to New Zealand, compared to 751 at the same time last year), which may also increase the possible reliance on repatriations.”

This information was in a document written on April 15.

It comes as several flights from South Africa have been cancelled this week. Around 150 New Zealanders were booked on Qatar Airways flights from Johannesburg to Doha.

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One flight left yesterday with six New Zealanders on board, but 142 remain stranded after five more flights were canned.