Chartered flight from Macao carries stranded passengers home

HONG KONG (AP) – About 50 people of various nationalities boarded a chartered flight from Macao to Malaysia on Thursday after many were stranded for months by the pandemic and border restrictions.

The flight to Kuala Lumpur was organized by Malaysia’s consulate in Hong Kong and Macao to repatriate its citizens from the territory. A flight earlier Thursday from Kuala Lumpur to Macao carried about 12 passengers.

There are currently no direct commercial flights between Macao and Malaysia due to travel restrictions. Many of the people on the chartered AirAsia flight had been stranded in Macao since the pandemic began.

The passengers included about 30 Malaysians, three Singaporeans and nine South Koreans.

“Today’s flight is the second repatriation flight the Consulate-General successfully worked with AirAsia on to bring Malaysians home from Macao, after a similar flight on 12 January,” Consul-General Yap Wei Sin said in a statement.

About 50 Malaysians were repatriated on the Jan. 12 flight, which was also chartered.

The flight demonstrates the Malaysian government’s commitment to assist citizens abroad, he said.

“We are pleased to be of service to our local communities again. We know how important it is for a lot of people to fly home especially during these challenging times,” AirAsia Hong Kong & Macao CEO Celia Lao said in a statement.

Passengers at the airport in Macao expressed relief and excitement at going home.

The Singapore Consulate-General said it had worked with the Malaysian Consulate-General and AirAsia to help the Singaporeans take the flight.

“We are glad that our 3 fellow Singaporeans are able to return home via this flight,” it said in a statement.

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