A repatriation flight left New York on September 23. With the local alternating repatriation plan for citizens in the USA, the other flight which may be ten days after will be from Miami.
This means citizens that are in New York and the United States east coast may have to wait 20 more days for the next flight (Seven days quarantine, three days sanitizing/preparing quarantine facilities and the process is repeated for repatriated citizens from Miami).
This means 20 more days of limited resources, decline in mental health, and immeasurable depression, anxiety and frustration.
If citizens from New York cannot endure this extra time, they will have to take a flight to Miami in sync with the next repatriation flight to Trinidad. Not only is this an additional cost but a risk in boarding the flights on time. No loitering or waiting in airports are allowed and US domestic flights’ times are delayed quite often now.
Thus, stranded citizens are now exposed to two airports and the two states where COVID-19 cases are the highest in the US.
Also, baggage restrictions for domestic flights across states means stranded citizens that are already cash strapped will have to find that money to pay for extra luggage (providing the airlines facilitate or offer such service at this time) .
I suggest if repatriation is done with 100 persons at a time (taking into consideration quarantine facilities in T&T), operate a flight from Miami with 50 passengers and another from New York with 50 passengers simultaneously, back to back flights (perhaps Saturday and Sunday), or take 50 persons from New York, stop of at Miami and take the other 50 before heading to Trinidad.
We may think this is not financially feasible but from a cost/benefit analysis perspective this will benefit nationals abroad that have already endured many discomforts and mental ordeals.
We need to take into consideration that Caribbean Airlines is the only legitimate entity to conduct reparations flights.
These flights from the USA can cost citizens anywhere from US$600 plus taxes and up. This accounts for at least a 300 per cent increase in the cost for a flight that usually costs US$200 or less post-COVID. Not forgetting to mention that meal and beverage services are suspended.
While I am aware that Caribbean Airlines is going through a financially turbulent period, which is the case for the airline industry across the board, I am sure our national carrier could step up to their corporate responsibility and help hundreds of stranded nationals during this time.