MP says not enough being done to bring Norwich couple home
PUBLISHED: 12:29 01 May 2020 | UPDATED: 07:30 02 May 2020
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Norwich South MP Clive Lewis has hit out at the government’s lack off response to helping nationals stuck in foreign countries during the coronavirus lockdown.
Mr Lewis said a couple in his constituency have been stuck in New Zealand unable to fly home due to the high cost of flights, frequent cancellations and refund refusals.
Joshua Houiellebacq and his girlfriend Jennifer Davies have been able to secure a flight home after a month in the country.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, the Labour MP said: “Several of my constituents are still trapped in different parts of the world.
“They are running out of money and have been refused a refund from their travel company. They face exorbitant flight prices that they cannot afford and are becoming increasingly desperate.
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“Why it has taken so long to put on sufficient charter flights compared to countries such as Germany, which has already managed to get most of their trapped nationals home?”
Nigel Adams, minister of state in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, replied: “One of the problems is that most of the commercial flights back to the UK have been suspended, so flight availability is extremely difficult.
“On cost, I do accept his point about how some airlines have dealt with their customers and not given cash refunds. I do not agree with that. I think it is incredibly bad form for the airlines not to provide timely refunds to their customers.”
Upon hearing the news that the couple had secured a flight home Mr Lewis added: “I’m really pleased that this is sorted now the family will finally be home soon.
“I was slightly taken aback by the minister saying that airlines’ tardiness in making refunds to customers was just “bad form”. He is in government and surely should be able to better than to just tut-tut at aviation firms who benefit hugely from hidden subsidies to their fuel?”
More than 600 UK nationals have been able to fly back to the UK from New Zealand. The government is also sending five charter flights to bring back a further 1,500.
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