Many Slovenians still stranded abroad, new evacuation flights planned
Ljubljana, 17 March - Around 90 Slovenian citizens have so far requested consular help unable to return home due to border closures. The government is planning additional evacuation flights after successfully organising a special flight from Moscow Tuesday morning, Andrej Šter, the head of the Foreign Ministry's consular service, told Radio Slovenija.
In addition to the 90 who have contacted consular services, Šter said at least twice as many are probably still stranded abroad.
An Aeroflot aircraft with Slovenian citizens aboard left Moscow this morning and talks are now under way for a special evacuation flight from Morocco, where many European citizens, Slovenians included, have been stranded.
The Foreign Ministry advised against all travel abroad several days ago and it has advised all those still abroad to stay put lest they get stranded in transit.
Those travelling through Madrid, a major hub for flights to South America, are particularly at risk since the Spanish capital will probably soon be placed under quarantine, Šter said.
Slovenia shut down all air traffic except emergency and evacuation flights as of Tuesday and Šter says air transport throughout Europe will be suspended no later than in two days.
Zagreb is among the last airports to remain open and those who land there will almost certainly be able to enter Slovenia, he said.
Slovenia gave just two days advance warning of the closure of air traffic and has been criticised for not giving people enough time to make arrangements for return flights. There have been several cases reported on social media of travellers wanting to return home based on the government's appeal to return but being unable to book flights.
Šter dismissed the criticism saying that the Foreign Ministry had urged all citizens as far back as the end of February to refrain from travelling abroad except in the event of emergency, while those already abroad had been urged to return.