Prague, Czech Republic - March 22, 2019: Taxi cars in front of bulding Terminal 1 at Vaclav Havel Airport Prague on March 22, 2019.

Czech Republic sending planes, buses to bring home residents stranded internationally

Hundreds of Czech citizens staying overseas have asked the Foreign Ministry and Czech diplomatic mission to help them return home

Prague, March 18 (CTK) – Hundreds of Czech citizens staying overseas have asked the Foreign Ministry and Czech diplomatic mission to help them return home, ministry spokeswoman Zuzana Stichova told CTK today.

Czech diplomacy announced on Tuesday that it was negotiating with other EU countries about the possible dispatching of aircraft to bring Czech citizens home from Asia and Latin America amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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The ministry has also sent buses to bring Czech citizens home from Europe. Czech students who stay abroad within the Erasmus student exchange programme have also used this offer.

However, the ministry, recommends that Czechs prefer commercial possibilities to travel back to the Czech Republic.

Czech diplomacy has registered some 300 applications for help from Czechs in Latin America, about 250 from the Canary Islands, some 200 from Morocco and 100 from the USA, Stichova said.

The ministry is also aware of some cases in the Philippines and Vietnam.

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Later today, Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek (Social Democrats, CSSD) told journalists that Prague was dispatching two flights for the 250 Czechs in the Canary Islands today.

If the capacity of the Czech planes allows it, Czechia will also offer to bring back its neighbour countries’ citizens from remote areas, Petricek said after a cabinet meeting.

He added that the government had granted a special exemption to the Rynair carrier to bring some 200 Czechs home from Morocco, and also decided to send a special plane to pick up about 150 Czechs in the Philippines.

“We have also decided to dispatch a special plane from Vietnam next week in cooperation with the Vietnamese airlines, which would preferentially bring back our fellow citizens. The plane’s capacity will probably enable us to offer the flight to other EU member states,” Petricek said.

“Furthermore, we are preparing the transfer of our citizens from Latin America where dozens of Czechs have got stuck as a result of the cancellation of flights, for example in Panama, the Dominican Republic and Cost Rica,” Petricek added.

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Czech diplomacy is negotiating about cooperation in the EU on sending planes for the EU countries’ citizens. Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek (Social Democrats, CSSD) debated cooperation at a video conference of the foreign ministers of the Visegrad Four (V4) countries, Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, on Tuesday.

CTK has information about Czech tourists who got stuck in Brazil and have no chance to get home as the flights were cancelled.

Another group of Czechs stays in the Philippines, but they could not get from one of the country’s islands to the international airport in Manila, from where they may fly to Europe.

In the past few days, Foreign Ministry also sent buses to pick up Czech citizens in Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, Berlin and London, mainly the passengers whose air connection was cancelled and they got stuck at big airports.

Today, the ministry will send buses to Vienna, Paris, Frankfurt as well as Croatia and Slovenia, while further buses will take Czech citizens home from Paris, Luxembourg and Switzerland on Thursday.

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“Only the citizens of the Czech Republic whose connection to the Czech Republic was cancelled as a consequence of the introduced measures can use these extraordinary transport means. All passengers will be classified as travellers from risk countries and the transport of those showing symptoms of the (coronavirus) disease will not be possible,” the ministry warns on its website.

It recommends that Czech citizens preferentially use individual commercial travel options to get to the border where family members can pick them up.

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