Coronavirus: British tourists stranded after flight suspensions

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Beth Marletta

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Beth Marletta and her partner are stuck in Morocco

British tourists in Morocco and Peru have told the BBC they are stranded and not sure how they will get home.

EasyJet and British Airways told the BBC they were running rescue flights from Morocco after general flights from there to the UK were suspended.

But tourist Beth Marletta told the BBC she was going to have to wait weeks.

“Just off the phone to BA who have said they can’t reschedule our flight until April now and no rescue flights despite what the news are saying,” she said.

Beth and her partner have been in Morocco for a week-and-a-half. They were due to fly back from Marrakech to Heathrow and then on to Edinburgh with BA on Saturday.

On her original call to British Airways, she was told the next available flight was in August.

Another British woman told the BBC she was supposed to fly back from Morocco with EasyJet. She said she had had trouble booking herself onto a rescue flight and that the situation was very confusing.

Thomas Reilly, the British ambassador in Morocco, tweeted that there would be a number of rescue flights operated by British Airways, Ryanair, EasyJet and Tui over the next three days.

Meanwhile, another British tourist, Amir Mahmood, has tweeted a video from the airport talking about his experience of trying to get home.

He was due to fly home from Morocco with EasyJet on Tuesday and the airline’s website said his flight was leaving on schedule.

He said he queued up for five hours at the airport, only to be told when he reached the front of the queue that there were no flights.

Amir said: “We don’t know what to do. We feel completely stranded along with hundreds of other British people.”

Since publishing his video, however, EasyJet booked Amir on the first available flight out of Morocco – to Paris on Wednesday morning.

EasyJet and BA said while they were running rescue flights they could not comment on individual cases.

The Department for Transport has been in discussion with airlines to ensure that rescue flights continue from destinations around the world even when tight travel restrictions kick in, to make sure British tourists can get home.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We recognise that any British people currently overseas may be nervous about the impact of coronavirus on their travel and their health.”

Another operator, Tui, said it was “working hard” to bring back its customers from Morocco, following local authority travel restrictions.

“We’re in direct contact with customers to keep them updated of their new departure flight times and our reps in-resort are able to help with the latest information.”

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Tess and Stevie

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Tess Bettison and her friend Stevie Chandler are struggling to get out of Peru

Meanwhile, two British women are on forced lockdown in a hostel in Peru with other Britons.

Tess Bettison and her friend Stevie Chandler said they were also concerned for their safety.

“We saw on the news in Peru that the Peruvian government were locking down the country and we were given 24 hours to get out. We were not informed by the British Embassy or our travel company,” said Tess.

“We started looking for flights out of the country but all of them back to the UK were cancelled as were ones to places like the US and Chile. We tried getting out to anywhere else like Mexico but the flights were £2,000-3,000 and when you clicked on them they were gone.

“There is rising tension in Peru with a lot of xenophobia towards the Chinese and European people as they blame us for bringing the coronavirus to their country.

“We have been locked inside our hostel for safety alongside other British nationals but we don’t know how long we’ll be allowed to stay here.”