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Tens of thousands of families will be separated this Christmas as desperate Australians remain trapped abroad due to strict flight limits due to coronavirus.

But the actual figure could be much higher.

Only 7,000 people are allowed to fly into the country each week to better manage the mandatory $ 3,000 hotel quarantine number.

This has made getting a seat on an airplane difficult and expensive.

Alice Chabalova, 16, downtown, left Melbourne to visit her family in Pennsylvania, USA with her mother, Elena, on March 5, before the pandemic was declared. (Supplied)

The thousands of expatriates in Australia also suffer this Christmas: 30 per cent of Australians were born abroad.

They will also be without family, as they are prohibited from leaving, and relatives who would normally visit cannot enter.

Some of those affected share their stories in their own words.

Alice Chabalova, 16, left Melbourne to visit her family in Pennsylvania, USA with her mother, Elena, on March 5, before the pandemic was declared.

Her flight home was canceled and she said the new ones would cost thousands, and she does not rule out the possibility that they will be rejected again.

She has been out of school for almost a year and Ms. Chabalova has missed medical appointments. They are separated from their father and sister at home.

“We couldn’t predict in our wildest dreams that the situation was going to get so bad,” said Ms Chabalova.

Alice Chabalova, 16, left Melbourne to visit her family in the US state of Pennsylvania with her mother Elena on March 5, before the pandemic was declared, and they are still there. (Supplied)

“We tried to book flights home through Canada with Canadian Airlines, however the flight was canceled and the airline informed us that the tickets are non-refundable.

“We have been very cautious when booking another flight, as many are canceled and do not refund money.

“We usually have Christmas at home with my parents and my sister.

“We are lucky to be able to stay with the family in Pennsylvania, but I can see that the fact that we are here for so long is taking its toll on them as well.

The 16-year-old said she and her mother feel “alone, helped and abandoned by the Australian government.”

“Mom and I are not the only ones affected, our whole family is feeling the pain. My dad has been to Melbourne,” he said.

“He will spend this holiday season alone.”

Stranded in the philippines

Sydney man Warrick Alston went to the Philippines with his wife Aime to see their family and do charity work in February.

But how reported by 9News, they were trapped when the nation closed and they are still there.

“I’ve been stranded for 11 months,” Alston said.

Warrick Alston went to the Philippines on vacation in February and is still stuck. (Supplied)

“I need to go back because I only came here on a three week holiday so we packed lightly and left all our belongings in Australia.”

Alson said that his passport had already expired, so he cannot apply for a visa extension.

“Air tickets from here are too expensive and I can’t get on any plane because my passport has expired,” he said.

“There are flights now, but they are all booked due to limits.

“If I am forced to go to Manila (to get a new passport), I have to self-quarantine at a government facility, where I would probably contract COVID-19.

Mr. Alston with his wife, Aime, said their passport has expired. (Supplied)

“The embassy will not help or respond to emails.”

Sydney’s father said he looks forward to FaceTimeing his daughter, parents and sister in Australia on Christmas Day.

“My 16-year-old daughter asks, ‘Will I never go back?”

Apart from the widowed mother

Britain’s Claire Lange, a 37-year-old mother of three from Adelaide, lost her father in May.

This left her grieving mother alone in the UK.

Since her sister died in a car accident at the age of 19, she tries to make sure she gets home for Christmas to make sure her mother doesn’t feel alone.

Lange has always been close to her parents and said she is devastated to have to spend her first Christmas apart.

“We have requested a compassionate waiver for my mother to come visit for a couple of months. We are happy to pay for the quarantine of the hotel,” he said.

“We have been rejected twice.”

Expat Claire Lange with her parents. Her father died in May and her mother is alone in the UK. (Supplied)

“I miss my dad for a fact … but I really miss my mom.

“My sanity is deteriorating. It’s just heartbreaking.

“As for how I’ll spend Christmas, I can’t bear the thought.

“I’m glad I have the kids to keep me busy.”

The Lange family normally get together for Christmas in Australia, but travel bans mean it’s not allowed. (Supplied)

Why Australians are still abroad

In addition to Australians who were on vacation or visiting relatives abroad when the world closed, many expats living and working abroad are still desperately trying to get home.

That includes people who didn’t need to leave earlier.

Expats were told to stay at the start of the pandemic if they could, but have now lost their jobs or are living in a nation struggling with a surge in coronavirus cases, like the United States.

There are 10,000 citizens and permanent residents trying to return from Indiaand 4500 in the UK, according to reports.
Australians stranded at London Heathrow airport register for their repatriation flight last month. (Nine)

Then there are the Australians who have had to leave Australia since the pandemic began, perhaps due to a family tragedy abroad, who are now trapped in nightmare backlog.

And while a handful of Qantas Repatriation flights are already underway, seats are limited and still need to be paid for.

Travelers are being “pulled” from scheduled flights, sometimes at the last minute, with planes almost empty.

Opposition politicians have criticized the federal government for the crisis.

Passengers on a Qantas flight arrive at Perth airport. (Getty)

DFAT told 9News in the last four weeks alone that it has offered 30,000 seats on flights to stranded Australians, with 48,000 returning since mid-September.

“We will continue to be in close contact with Australians registered abroad, including through calls and emails,” a spokesman said.

A spokesman for the Department of Infrastructure, Transportation, Regional Development and Communications said the flight limits are in effect until January 31, when they will be reviewed.

Contact journalist Sarah Swain: [email protected]


www.9news.com.au

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