They have planes and plans, but for a group of 500 New Zealanders trapped in India, it is the government’s agreement that they are waiting to bring them home.
Early in the year, Ricky Singh brought his newborn son to India to meet his family for the first time.
Singh, who has lived in New Zealand for 13 years and has been a permanent resident for six years, said the fast food delivery business faced bankruptcy after he failed to return to New Zealand before the border closed.
Singh is one of about 1800 Kiwis trapped in India due to lack of flights, 500 of whom are trying to rent planes home.
Peta Cooke is eager to reunite with his fiancée from South Africa, Cameron Read, in New Zealand.
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The group plans to rent a plane from Singapore Airlines, which has been approved by the airline, then fly from Delhi, to Chennai in southern India, before heading to Auckland or Christchurch.
The proposal was submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) on May 15, and again on May 28.
Singh said that he had been in contact with MFAT almost every day since submitting the proposal, but felt he was unsuccessful.
He, and others in the group, have also been in contact with the Prime Minister’s office, he said.
He said no one would be allowed on a flight that was not a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, and the costs would be fully borne by the group, with tickets each valued at around $ 2,490.
If permitted, the aircraft could then be used to carry Indians who are currently trapped in New Zealand homes.
Singh said that the group was giving a solution to a problem, and only needed the Government to join.
He said he ran out of money when he was stuck overseas while he continued to pay rent and telephone bills at home.
“It’s been a nightmare for me.”
Helping the group were local Sydney residents Vishal Sardana and Arun Sharma who organized similar flights from India to Australia in early May.
Sardana said they had the full support of the Australian High Commission in India, as well as the Australian Border Force, and he was disappointed with the lack of involvement from an equal New Zealand.
With Singapore Airlines announcing it will continue passenger services to New Zealand, he worried that citizens trapped in India would lose the opportunity to rent a plane, or the price could rise.
After approval was given, he said the group could return home in seven days, he said.
He said people were worried about using repartition flights run by Air India, because there appeared to be no coherent system regarding who was allocated seats.
Another member of the group, Gunjan Gera, said she and her husband went to India to see the adoption of the child.
He was trapped in India for two and a half months.
“We live in a rented room in a house in Ludhiana, Punjab, while our own house sits unattended in NZ.
“We are afraid to leave the room even for food and food, because Covid-19 scares us.”
He said that he had received phone calls from his employer every day asking when he would return to New Zealand, and worried that he would lose his job.
“We have the right to enter NZ, but this uncertainty and endless waiting causes us to experience deep mental and financial pressure.”
Another woman, Priyanka, who did not want her last name used, could not find a cure for a chronic medical condition.
“If I won’t return soon, it will endanger my health.”
A MFAT spokesman said that the ministry was aware of a number of private charter proposals.
“Our priority is to work with Indian authorities on six planned Air India repatriation flights to and from New Zealand.
“The New Zealand Government’s priority is to facilitate options for the return of New Zealand citizens and their immediate family.”
He said they did not rule out using private charter flights, if there were still unmet needs and supported the repatriation of New Zealanders.
The Prime Minister’s Office has been approached for comment.
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