Seven Irish people being repatriated from Algeria today

Seven Irish people being repatriated from Algeria today

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Update:

7.45pm – Only five to those originally due to travel on the flight arrived in Shannon this evening.

One of those, Pádraigín Hardiman from Co Tryone, spent three weeks trying to get home from Algeria.

Padraigín Hardiman being interviewed after arriving from Algeria this evening – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2020

Earlier: Seven Irish citizens will be flown home from Algeria this afternoon on board a US-bound repatriation flight.

The rescue flight, from the Algerian capital Algiers, will make a brief stopover at Shannon Airport where seven passengers, all Irish nationals, will disembark.

All other passengers on board, understood to be US citizens, will remain on the aircraft and continue to the Washington in the US later.

US citizens living in the North African country had been told by the US Embassy there that seating capacity on the flight would be limited and only those who had submitted confirmations and all information before noon on Friday, March 27 would be prioritised.

In an arrangement reached between Irish and US authorities, seven Irish people will be accommodated on the flight will be expected to adhere to guidelines issued by health authorities to anyone entering Ireland during the current crisis.

Authorities here require anyone coming into Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland, to restrict their movements on arrival for 14 days.

The Omni flight after arriving from Algeria this evening – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2020

As of yesterday, Algeria had confirmed 511 cases of COVID-19 and 31 COVID-19 related deaths within its borders.

The repatriation flight will be undertaken US-based civilian charter airline Omni Air International on behalf of the US government which, like many countries, is working to repatriate thousands of its citizens around the world.

The flight is due in Shannon at around 6.00pm however this is subject to change.

A spokesperson for the the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that they “assisted in securing seats for 7 passengers returning to Ireland from Africa on a US repatriation flight today.”

“The flight departed Algiers en route to Washington DC with a scheduled stop for refuelling at Shannon Airport. Permissions to permit the passengers to disembark at Shannon were made following coordination between DFA Consular officials, the Department of Transport and the US Embassies in Algiers and Tunis,” the Department said.

Shannon Airport is currently open but on a restricted basis. The airport continues to facilitate repatriation and cargo flights as well as other essential services.

Commenting on the COVID-19 situation, Mary Considine, CEO, Shannon Group said: “Shannon Airport is continuing to facilitate airline services for our passengers, cargo operators, and aviation businesses based at Shannon. In these unprecedented times, it is particularly important that we endeavour to keep our airport open to facilitate the transport of essential and emergency good, and as of this time we will continue to operate on a significantly reduced basis.

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