Viral videos show tourists, especially French nationals, stranded at the Marrakech Menara International Airport.
Rabat – Amid travel suspensions to various countries to prevent a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Morocco is scheduling flights to allow foreign nationals stuck in the country to return to their countries of residence.
The Tangier Ibn Battouta International Airport scheduled five exceptional flights on Saturday, March 14.
Airport operations chief Abdelghani El Yaalaoui confirmed that the five exceptional flights on Air Arabia allowed foreign travelers and Moroccans residing abroad to return to the European countries to which flights have been suspended, according to Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).
In addition to the Tangier Ibn Battouta flights, the Marrakech Menara International Airport is also scheduling flights to Paris in the coming hours.
The French Embassy in Rabat announced on Facebook that Marrakech-Paris flights will soon be available through Transavia.
The airline, however, instructed travelers to purchase new flight tickets. The canceled tickets will be compensated, but passengers with canceled tickets cannot fly on Transavia’s new flight.
The decision comes after hundreds of tourists found themselves in Morocco as air and maritime travel with 29 countries throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas have been suspended.
In Europe, Morocco suspended flights from Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Portugal, Greece, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Austria.
AFP reported today that some special flights left Morocco on Sunday to repatriate thousands of tourists stranded following the shutdown of air and sea routes due to the coronavirus.
Moroccans residing abroad, especially Europe, also expressed concerns in videos, asking Moroccan authorities to repatriate them amid fear of the pandemic.
The measures come as 18 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Morocco. All of the infections made contact with the virus in European countries except for one patient, who contracted the virus from a carrier who became infected abroad.
Morocco’s health authorities clarified that eight out of nine new cases detected on March 13 are Moroccan expatriates who arrived in Morocco from Europe.
The carriers entered Morocco territory between February 24 and March 12, in the cities of Tetouan, Rabat, Casablanca, Fez, and Khouribga, the Ministry of Health said in a statement.
Morocco’s government considers the country to be in the first phase of the coronavirus as all infections arrived in Morocco from abroad.
Globally, there are more than 159,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and nearly 76,000 patients have recovered from the virus.