MANILA — The Philippines will be organizing two special commercial flights to bring home stranded Filipinos in Europe due to the COVID-19 Omicron variant, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Monday.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola said the "Bayanihan" flights were scheduled to leave in The Netherlands on Dec. 10 and 13.
To date, there are 140 stranded Filipinos in Europe after seven countries were placed on Manila's red list amid the threat of Omicron, she said. These are Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy.
Arriola urged Filipinos with repatriation concerns to contact their nearest embassy for the travel arrangements.
She said some of those who got stranded were Filipino students, workers and tourists who were caught mid-trip by the new travel restrictions.
For the Dec. 10 trip, those who wish to avail of the special flight will have to pay 2,400 euros. This is because the flight was chartered by a manning agency for Filipino seafarers, Arriola said.
Meanwhile, the Dec. 13 flight will be a "humanitarian flight" in which the Philippine government will help pay the ticket of stranded Filipinos.
The repatriated Filipinos will then undergo testing and a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
In Africa, Arriola said at least 49 Filipinos, mostly workers, remain stranded.
"We're trying to make arrangements kung paano sila mailabas kasi mas mahirap po ito dahil halos lahat ng bansa at saka mga hubs nag-close ng (on how to get them out because almost all countries closed their hubs and) flights from South Africa," she said.
The Philippines has yet to detect the Omicron variant case.