Around 7,500 Sri Lankans repatriated from Doha during Pandemic

In close coordination with the Sri Lankan Embassy in Doha, the SriLankan Airlines has repatriated high number of passengers back home.

Around 7,500 passengers have been repatriated from Doha to Colombo, between May 2020 and April 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Embassy guidelines, priority was given to pregnant women, urgent medical cases, workers in distress, senior citizens as well as to other people who are stranded in difficult situations.

The repatriation process was held with cooperation and facilitation of Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Administration Development, Labour and Social Affairs, the Civil Aviation Authority of Qatar and Hamad International Airport.

“The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Doha continues to facilitate the repatriation of Sri Lankan expatriates in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic under the guidance of Foreign Minister, Hon. Dinesh Gunewardena and the Foreign Secretary Admiral Professor Jayanath Colombage,” said the Sri Lankan Embassy in Doha in statement.

“The Embassy has successfully repatriated over 7,500 Sri Lankans from May 2020 to April 2021 in collaboration with SriLankan Airlines. The Embassy wishes to extend its sincere gratitude to the SriLankan Airlines for their invaluable assistance and cooperation in this endeavour,” it added.

The first batch of Sri Lankans departed from Doha as part of a repatriation drive on May 26, 2020. A total of 275 were onboard SriLankan Airlines flight UL 218.

During the beginning of the pandemic two flights per week were operated by SriLankan Airlines for repatriation. It was increased to a daily operation at the end of April 2021.

With the relaxation of entry requirements to Sri Lanka by April 7, the repatriation process ended.

“SriLankan Airlines Qatar aggressively helped the repatriation process, introducing flights and deploying capacity rapidly. That includes a several additional flights as well. During the repatriation program SriLankan Airlines has uplifted 7,500 passengers from Qatar to Sri Lanka. Among them about 2,500 passengers were taken to the government quarantine centers,” Thusitha Wickramasinghe, the Country Manager of SriLankan Airlines in Qatar told The Peninsula.

“As a station Qatar has the highest number of flights per week in the SriLankan airlines network. Since Qatar is not the country with the highest number of Sri Lankan expatriates, securing a daily operation is an exceptional achievement. Therefore, as a percentage of repatriated Sri Lankans over Sri Lankan expatriates in a particular country, Qatar should be one of the top three if not the highest,” said Wickramasinghe.

Due to the COVID-19 situation in Sri Lanka arrivals were temporarily halted at international airports of the country and resumed from June 1.

At present SriLankan Airlines is operating daily flights from Doha to Colombo and offers convenient quarantine packages for passengers, which include air tickets, hotel quarantine facilities, PCR tests and a complimentary insurance cover. An individual-chauffeur-driven transport is provided from the airport to hotel in Sri Lanka.

SriLankan Airlines operates flights to different destinations including to Qatar under special COVID-19 airline operational procedures that include the use of Personal Protective Equipment for staff, deep cleaning, fogging and de-misting procedures to disinfect aircraft. (The Peninsula)

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