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Chimu Brings Stranded Aussies & Kiwis Home From South America

A number of Australian and New Zealand travellers were left in limbo when South America went into lockdown. But this morning, many of these travellers touched down on Australian soil on a LATAM aircraft chartered by Chimu Adventures.

A number of Australian and New Zealand travellers were left in limbo when South America went into lockdown. But this morning, many of these travellers touched down on Australian soil on a LATAM aircraft chartered by Chimu Adventures.

The repatriation operation saw 136 Australians and 8 New Zealanders departing Montevideo bound for Sydney.

This is the second flight Chimu Adventures has charted to help Australian travellers stuck in South America return to Australia during the pandemic. 

The first flight returned from Peru and arrived in Sydney on March 31 2020.

Karry On - Intrepid Family

The situation for all travellers in South America became problematic after many countries suddenly closed borders and enforced rapid lockdown laws in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This interrupted and even halted many pre-booked travel plans including, options for international travellers trying to return home.

These responsive border situations also caused issues for Chimu Adventures’ charter cruise on the MV Ocean Atlantic. 

This ship was returning from Antarctica and due disembark passengers in Puerto Madryn, in Argentina, on the 21st of March 2020. 

Ocean Atlantic

 New restrictions meant that port authorities in Puerto Madryn would not allow passengers to disembark there.

“We quite literally found ourselves in unchartered waters, in this unprecedented time, as we entered a long process of navigating multiple governments and restrictions in a bid to get our travellers home”.

Greg Carter, Co-founder of Chimu Adventures.

Multiple ports in Argentina would not allow them to disembark and commercial flight options for Australian travellers to return to Australia rapidly vanished.

“In the end, our only option was a dock in Montevideo and try to charter a plane to get Australians home from Uruguay,” he said.

“Our travellers were all given a clean bill of health by medical professionals, so this soon became a viable, albeit onerous option.”

“Chartering a commercial aircraft to transit international borders, when you are not an airline, is not easy at the best of times. Let alone during a Pandemic,” Greg explained.  

Chimu-adventures
Chimu Founders, Greg Carter and Chad Carey

“Working with wildly fluctuating currency dollar rates, ever-changing travel and border restrictions, lawyers, insurance companies, governments, airport and port authorities, made piecing the jigsaw together incredibly difficult”.

“As we processed and thought we had everything in place, another obstacle would arise which saw our goal posts shift frequently. We are so relieved, after working around the clock for two weeks, that the flight is finally underway.” 

Greg Carter, Co-founder of Chimu Adventures.

In the end, Chimu was supported by many entities critical in ensuring the success of the operation.

“We are incredibly grateful for all the assistance we have received during this operation including from the friends and families of our travellers, the travellers themselves, Brett Hackett the Australian Ambassador to Argentina and his diplomatic staff, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, LATAM airlines plus the Uruguayan Government and port officials.”

“This all began as an operation to bring Chimu travellers home, as their safety is our priority, it then extended to help other Australians in a similar predicament”.

“We are incredibly pleased that across both flights and through various other means since the crisis hit, we have been able to bring home 392 Chimu Adventure travellers as well as many other Australians who originally booked their travel arrangements elsewhere,” he said.

“We are glad that Qantas is now following suit and we are willing and able to further assist, via our own operations network on the ground in South America, should that be required by Qantas or the Australian Government”.