Canada’s foreign minister approves in early April an emergency airlift for weary Canadians stranded in Peru during the pandemic.
Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne asked Peru by a text message to secure landing rights.
He said during an interview that this is “the largest repatriation of Canadian travelers abroad in Canada’s history.”
According to his office, about 8,000 Canadians already brought home from more than 30 countries on over 40 government flights since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a pandemic last March.
He said the repatriation of citizens is enormous and complex due to the closure of almost all airports across the globe. Restriction of flights and movements people also had to be considered, he added.
“You know, basically, I had to negotiate the landing slots for our planes to land in Peru, I did that by text message, to be honest,” he said.
The foreign minister said he talked to his counterpart through text messages about the airlift for stranded Canadians in Peru.
“This is by far the most challenging repatriation exercise that we have ever done.”
Further, the foreign minister said he also reached out to a “subgroup of G20 countries” about the lessons learned in tackling the pandemic and how to slow its spread.
He said other countries also face the same challenges. He encouraged countries to work together and express leadership.