PM announces new flights to Peru, Americas to repatriate stranded Canadians

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OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is announcing multiple new flights to bring stranded Canadians home from abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trudeau says that will include three new Air Canada flights to bring Canadians back from Peru, which has otherwise closed its airspace.

Trudeau says Air Transat, WestJet and Sunwing Airlines all have flights planned this week.

Two more Air Canada flights are to reach Canadians in Morocco in the coming days, he says.

Trudeau says an Air Canada flight to Spain is also confirmed, while Air Transat has been cleared for two flights to Honduras and one each to Ecuador, El Salvador and Guatemala.

The prime minister is urging all Canadians abroad to return home by commercial means while options are still available and to register with the government so they can receive proper updates.

"You need to do this if you haven't done it already," Trudeau said Monday in his daily press conference outside his Rideau Cottage residence in Ottawa.

Earlier Monday, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said it won't be possible for the government to repatriate all Canadians stranded abroad.

In an interview with CBC's The Current, Champagne said the challenges the government faces are unprecedented with airport and airspace closures, border closures and the fact some countries have imposed martial law.

Global Affairs Canada has had 10,000 calls and 14,000 emails in the last 48 hours, he said.

Champagne told the radio program the government will try to help support stranded Canadians locally through diplomatic channels.

Champagne said he had to negotiate for air access to Peru despite the fact the country is closed, and it is controlled by the military.

"My job is to negotiate on a case-by-case basis where we have a cluster of Canadians, and where Canadians can gather in one place," he said.

"Sometimes, getting the plane is Step 1, and the easiest one. Then it's to make sure we land there, make sure we can have a safe passage for our crew, safe passage for Canadians who want to return home."

The Canadian Press

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