Hundreds of Australians desperate to return home are about to receive a helping hand, courtesy of new repatriation flights by the Australian government.
It comes after major airline Emirates pulled all its services to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Dani Mansutti had spent more than $10,000 on an Emirates ticket from the UK back to Melbourne when flights were cancelled two weeks before she was due to depart.
“I’ve been trying to get back to Australia for months. I've been trying to get home to my family,” Mansutti said.
The announcement comes after three states halved their international traveller cap in response to the spread of Covid-19 variants around the world.
The government has organised an extra 20 repatriation flights as around 37,000 Australians attempt to return home.
“We're going to keep them going now over the next couple of months to make sure we continue to help Australians to get back home,” Australian Acting Foreign Minister Simon Birmingham said.
The flights will depart from priority countries, but stranded Australians are angry they have to queue when 15 chartered flights have been organised for the Australian Open.
“The tennis issue is huge. It's at least, what, 12,000 players and their entourage when Australians are homeless here. Australians are homeless in London,” one woman said.
An Emirates spokesperson told 1 NEWS the decision to pull out of Australia’s East Coast is in response to new border restrictions.
Emirates currently operates four flights per week from Dubai to Auckland. There are currently no plans to suspend or alter its New Zealand routes.
While it’s a relief for Kiwis overseas, the New Zealand Government has no repatriation flights planned, saying while air travel remains challenging, there are viable commercial routes home for New Zealanders.