THE BRITISH government is laying on special planes and reopening flight routes across the world to bring home Brits stranded by the coronavirus pandemic.
In a speech to the House Of Commons this afternoon, the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab revealed that they are helping to secure flights with a number of countries including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Peru.
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He said: "Where commercial options are limited or prevented by domestic restrictions, we are in close contact with the airlines and local authorities in those countries to overcome those barriers to enable people to return home.
"With my ministerial team and indeed across the diplomatic network, we are engaging with numerous governments to keep commercial routes open, particularly in transit hubs."
In Peru, the government has agreed special flights with the country's Foreign Minister to fly Brits back to the UK.
In Singapore, the government is trying to allow a smooth transit through the airport for British nationals currently stranded in places like Indonesia.
In New Zealand and Australia, the High Commission is working with airlines, airports and the New Zealand Government to keep flight routes open and reopen some that have closed.
He also urged any other Brits remaining aboard to travel home, as the pandemic continues to spread chaos.
Raab said: "Following last week’s decision to advise against all but essential travel globally, last night, I changed our travel advice again because of the rate of new border restrictions.
"We strongly advise those British people who are currently travelling abroad but live in the UK to return as soon as possible, where they are still able to because commercial routes are still running."
The statement comes as it is claimed that several major airlines have no spare seats to bring UK passengers home from Spain this week.
Consumer group Which? said travellers wanting to leave the UK's most popular holiday destination before it closes hotels on Thursday night as part of a coronavirus shutdown are unable to book flights with Ryanair, easyJet and Jet2.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is urging all British travellers to return to the UK as soon as possible, warning that further closures to air routes may occur without notice.
Many are at risk of being stranded due to airlines grounding planes because of a drop in demand and an increase in travel restrictions, although airlines are operating some rescue flights.
Sandra and Lewis Will had a flight booked with Ryanair from Alicante to Aberdeen on Thursday, which was cancelled.
They re-booked for Sunday, only for that flight to also be cancelled.
Ms Will said: "We are in our 70s and I have recently been released from a Spanish hospital after having a mini stroke, so this kind of stress does not help.
"We are in Spain under lockdown, hoping at some point there will be rescue flights for all the abandoned people."
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Which? advised passengers not to accept a refund from their airline if their flight is cancelled and they still need to get home, as that means the carrier is no longer responsible for re-routing them.
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary said the airline is "continuing to work with EU governments on rescue flights to return stranded passengers to their home country".
He added that he expects most of its scheduled flights to be cancelled from today, and it does not expect to resume them until June at the earliest.
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