2020.03.19 10:26

Travel updates: flights to Vilnius being arranged from London and Warsaw

BNS2020.03.19 10:26

A chartered flight from London is being arranged for Saturday to repatriate Lithuanians stranded in the United Kingdom, the Transport Ministry said on Thursday. Another flight will depart Warsaw for Vilnius on March 20.

The flight from London is tentatively scheduled to depart London Stansted at 19:00 local time and arrive in Vilnius at 11:30 local time. A ticket costs 275 euros.

Read more: Coronavirus updates: 36 confirmed cases, authorities to withhold patients' gender and age

Saturday's flight is being organized by Kidy Tour and will be operated by an Avion Express aircraft. Passengers must register here, or contact Kidy Tour for additional information.

Lithuanians will also be able to use a connecting flight to Vilnius via Warsaw on Friday, Transport Minister Jaroslav Narkevič said on Thursday.

"Under the agreement, our citizens could fly to Warsaw Airport, and we are arranging a flight to Vilnius from there on [March] 20," Narkevič told reporters.

"If someone comes to Warsaw [on flights operated] by other airlines, they will be able to fly to Vilnius on [March] 20," he added.

According to the minister, two chartered flights from Paris to Lithuania are being arranged for Friday. He said all 220 seats on the first flight had already been booked, but 86 seats on the second one were still available.

A 180-seat plane from Amsterdam is expected to arrive in Lithuania on Thursday, and a chartered flight from London is being arranged for Saturday.

Around 186 passengers have registered for Thursday's flight from Valencia. A chartered flight from Bali is scheduled for March 23. The latter flight will cost each traveler 995 euros.

The flight is being organised by Kidy Tour and will be operated by an Avion Express aircraft. The registration (here) is open until March 21.

All people who return to Lithuania from abroad must self-isolate for 14 days.

Poland closes border checkpoint to trucks

Poland will restrict truck movement via the Lazdijai-Ogrodniki border checkpoint after truck queues cleared out on the Lithuanian-Polish border.

“The Polish side has informed us that vehicles with the mass of 7.5 tons will not be allowed to cross via the Lazdijai border crossing point from midnight to Friday (01:00 Lithuanian time). All other vehicles with a smaller mass will be able to go through this point,” Rokas Pukinskas of the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service told BNS.

There are no restrictions at the Kalvarija-Budzisko border crossing point.

Bozena Zaborovska-Zdanovic, an adviser to the Lithuanian interior minister, told BNS that Poland had agreed to allow heavy vehicles to cross this point only temporarily as the surrounding area is environmentally protected.

“There's a nature reserve on the Polish side and heavy vehicles had never been allowed to go through there. Since there were queues, they agreed to lift the restrictions temporarily. Since there are no longer queues at the Kalvarija-Budzisko point, the Lazdijai-Ogrodniki point will be closed,” she said.

If queues form again, the movement of commercial vehicles might be resumed via this border checkpoint again, she said.

Cn Lithuania's request, Poland opened the Lazdijai-Ogrodniki checkpoint on Tuesday night as there was a 50-km queue to cross the border. There were no queues there on Thursday morning after check procedures were adjusted on the Polish side.

Special ferry to Riga

A special ferry from Germany is taking 200 Lithuanians to Riga after they were left stranded following Poland's decision to close its borders.

The Romantika ferry is transporting 476 people, 202 of them Lithuanians, 126 Latvians and 83 Estonians, according to Katri Link of Tallink Grupp. The ferry is also taking 152 vehicles.

The Tallink ferry left the German port of Sassnitz at 01:40 on Thursday morning and is scheduled to arrive in the Latvian capital at around 23:30.

The ferry had been initially scheduled to go to Ventspils, but its route was changed to due the vessel's size.

It is a second ferry taking Baltic citizens from Germany after Poland closed its borders.

A ferry of Lithuania's Limarko Maritime Agency brought around 140 passengers, including 95 Lithuanians, to the Lithuanian port of Klaipėda Wednesday night.

People must self-isolate for two weeks after returning to Lithuania from abroad and face liability for failure to do so.

Several hundred Lithuanians have already returned to Lithuania in special convoys via Poland, and some of them have also been flown back from Tenerife, with several flights still scheduled from Valencia, Amsterdam, London and Warsaw.

Stranded Lithuanians head home

Around a thousand stranded Lithuanians have already returned home after border closures wrecked havoc across Europe, according to the Lithuanian prime minister.

"Based on information available to us, up to 6,000 [are stranded abroad]. But these are figures that came in after our call for registration and they should be updated," Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius told LRT RADIO.

"We believe that up to a thousand should have returned by now," he added.

Most of the citizens are stranded in Spain, the United Kingdom and France. Also, about 1,500 people are stuck in countries outside of the EU, making it more difficult for them to reach Lithuania.

Linkevičius urged citizens to register for repatriation flights, warning that there might be no alternatives to return to Lithuania in the future as the situation is still developing.

According to the minister, the situation on the German-Polish border, where many Lithuanian nationals were stranded after Poland refused to allow passenger cars through, is easing.

Eight convoys of buses and minibuses have been allowed to transit through Poland. Passenger cars are being directed to the ports of Sassnitz and Kiel for ferries to Lithuania or Latvia, and Lufthansa will continue to operate flights between Frankfurt and Vilnius until Sunday.

Lithuanian citizens could also take LOT flights to Warsaw Airport, which is open for transiting EU nationals. Commercial flights would then have to be arranged to fly them to Lithuania, said Linkevičius.

Queues clear on Lithuanian-Polish border

Queues have cleared on the Lithuanian-Polish border by Thursday morning after the Polish border guards reorganised their checking procedures.

A massive tailback of vehicles had stretched 35 kilometers from the border on Wednesday evening.

"The reason [why the queues have cleared] is that only Polish truck drivers and persons permanently residing in Poland are now required to fill in health questionnaires before entering Poland," Rokas Pukinskas, a spokesman for the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service (VSAT), told BNS.

"The Poles started measuring temperature at three points on the road. So, the flow was absorbed overnight," he added.

According to the spokesman, queues on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border have eased, too.

At 07:00, some 300 trucks waited to cross from Lithuania into Belarus at Medininkai and 60 vehicles queued up on the other side of the border.

A total of 217 people were barred from leaving Lithuania and 407 were denied entry between Monday midnight, when a nationwide quarantine took effect, and Thursday morning.

CORRECTION: The correct departure date from Bali is March 23.

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