Coronavirus: New Zealand citizens trying to charter a flight home held up by government approval
They have a plane and a plan, but for a group of 500 New Zealanders stuck in India, it's government approval they are waiting on to get them home.
At the beginning of the year, Ricky Singh took his newborn son to India to meet his family for the first time.
Singh, who has lived in New Zealand for 13 years and been a permanent resident for six, said his fast food delivery business was facing bankruptcy after he failed to make it back to New Zealand before the borders closed.
Singh is one of about 1800 kiwis stuck in India due to a lack of flights, 500 of whom are trying to charter a flight home.
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The group plans to charter a plane from Singapore Airlines, which has been agreed by the airline, then fly from Delhi, to Chennai in south India, before heading to either Auckland or Christchurch.
The proposal was submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) on May 15, and then again on May 28.
Singh said he had been in almost daily contact with MFAT since submitting the proposal, but felt he was getting nowhere.
He, and others in the group, have also been in touch with the Prime Minister's office, he said.
He said no one would be allowed on the flight who was not a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, and the cost would be covered entirely by the group, with tickets costing about $2490 each.
If allowed, the plane could then be used to take Indian residents currently stuck in New Zealand home.
Singh said the group was presenting a solution to a problem, and only needed the Government to get on board.
He said he was running out of money while stuck overseas, while he continued to pay rent and phone bills at home.
"It has been a nightmare for me."
Another member of the group, Gunjan Gera, said she and her husband went to India to look at child adoption.
She had been stuck in India for two and a half months.
"We are living in a rented room in a house in Ludhiana, Punjab, while our own house is sitting unattended in NZ.
"We are afraid to leave the room even for the food and groceries, because Covid-19 scares us."
She said she had been getting calls from her employer every day asking when she was returning to New Zealand, and was worried she would lose her job.
"We are eligible to enter NZ, but this uncertainty and never-ending wait is causing us a deep mental and financial stress."
Another woman, Priyanka, who did not want her last name used, was unable to find medication for a chronic medical condition.
"If am not going to get back as soon a possible it will be dangerous for my health."
The Prime Minister's office has been approached for comment.
MFAT was not immediately available for comment.
Source : Stuff.co.nz