A Perthshire politician is calling for urgent government intervention to help residents spread across four continents who are scrambling to get home amid global travel chaos sparked by the coronavirus crisis.
John and Annmarie Gorrie, from Blairgowrie, are currently trapped in Almuñécar, Spain, and have appealed to Perth and North Perthshire MP Pete Wishart to help get them home.
The couple, both nurses, had planned to come home early from their holiday to assist in the UK’s fight against the virus, but their flights had been cancelled.
John said: “We are desperate to get back home and help where we can.
“Having seen first-hand, how events have unfolded in Spain, I am fearful that the worst is yet to come for all of the UK.”
Birnam cafe manager Peter Halcrow and wife Fatou, who works at Dunkeld House Hotel, were set to return from a three week trip to The Gambia at the end of March.
The couple are stranded at their compound in Busumbala, about seven miles south of Banjul International Airport and are also hoping political intervention can get them moving.
They were part of a group of Britons trapped in the smallest nation on Africa’s continent who had tracked down seats on a flight to the UK from Dakar in neighbouring Senegal but the extortionate ticket costs priced most out of a return home yesterday.
Peter said: “Basically, we are stranded here in the Gambia. We have been to the British High Commission to register for repatriation.
“There was an Air Senegal flight arranged for Tuesday but tickets were up to £800 a seat, which is beyond our means.
“The High Commission didn’t advise us of the flight even though we registered with them two weeks ago. I only found out about is via a WhatsApp group which has been set up by another Brit here.”
Also worrying about the financial burden of getting her loved ones home is Natalie Hutton from Perth.
Her husband Shan and four-year-old daughter Lailah are in Gaggoo Vahri in Pakistan after visiting for a family wedding.
They have had seats with Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways cancelled already and are looking at four figure fees to board a repatriation flight.
Lailah is running out of vital medicine and mum Natalie is beginning to worry.
She said: “They tried to cut the trip short when things started looking bad and come home straight after the wedding.
“We’ve had flights cancelled and the airlines have lost control.
“The next one they can get is on April 20 to Manchester but it’s from Islamabad, 10 hours away from them. I’m not happy with the prices the tickets are being offered at. People are being exploited.”
Mr Wishart said he was also working on behalf of another constituent Kirsty Fisher and her partner who are in Antigua, but feared he was facing a “lack of urgency” from the Foreign Office.
The SNP MP said: “This is causing my constituents many days and weeks of grief and worry over when they will get home.
“It is also causing them significant financial hardship, as many have been forced to extend hotels stays and rebook flights costing thousands of pounds.
“The Foreign Office must step up now and please bring our constituents home to their families.”
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We recognise British tourists abroad are finding it difficult to return to the UK because of the unprecedented international travel and domestic restrictions that are being introduced around the world, often with very little or no notice.”
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