The Window For Stranded Australians Wanting To Flee South And North America Is Closing
Australians have been warned time and flight options are running out if they want to flee the US, as the coronavirus outbreak continues to take hold.
The warnings comes as Qantas and Virgin Australia prepare to halt flights from Los Angeles, giving Australians few options to fly home. United Airlines will also have a limited schedule.
On Thursday Australia's consulate-general in Los Angeles, Chelsey Martin, issued a message to the "tens of thousands" of Australians who live within her jurisdiction in America's southwest states.
"Whatever your circumstances, given the escalating COVID-19 crisis I wanted to reach out and encourage any Australians wishing to go home to do so as soon as possible,"Martin said in a video message posted to Twitter.
"After the end of this week, commercial flight options will be incredibly limited."
She explained Qantas' last scheduled flight out of LAX is on Friday March 27, while Virgin's is due to take place on Sunday March 29.
"United Airlines has advised us that they will continue with a limited flight schedule from San Francisco to Sydney in the weeks ahead, but the situation is changing rapidly and I would encourage anyone who is still deciding whether or not they would like to return to Australia, not to delay taking that decision," she added.
"These are unprecedented and anxious times for many."
Martin said the LA based consulate will remain open to provide assistance and Australians are being urged to follow the consulate on social media for updates.
Many Aussies in South America will also find themselves in a similar predicament.
Currently the Federal Government is working to organise a commercial charter flights to help bring stranded Australians in Peru and Uruguay home.
It is understood more than 260 Australian nationals and permanent residents will board the fully booked commercial charter flight scheduled to depart Lima.
However, the flights departure is subject to final approval by Peruvian authorities.
Another flight is expected to leave Montevideo in Uruguay in coming days with Australians from the Ocean Atlantic cruise ship and any others in the area who want to come home, AAP reports.
"Further facilitated flights are already being planned for Australians in South America, due to particular challenges with transport out of the region," Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a joint statement.
"Australian embassies in Lima and Buenos Aires are working with local authorities in Peru and Uruguay to ensure all arrangements are in place for the flights to Australia, which has required careful and consistent negotiation."
The government has been in discussions with Australian travel company Chimu Adventures, which will manage the charter operations out of Lima, Montevideo and Cusco.
"As the Government stated yesterday, we understand many Australians overseas face great difficulty getting home," the statement said.
"We have agreed to consider, on a case-by-case basis, supporting commercial airlines to operate non-scheduled services to less central locations for Australians."
Australians who can travel home by commercial means are urged to do so as soon as possible.
More than 3,000 Australians are stuck on board cruise ships across the globe.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Thursday no cruise ship passengers would be permitted to disembark in NSW until further notice.