Family stranded in Scotland 9,000 miles from island home can finally return after 2 years

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Grandfather Amosa Soani, 60, his son Tumau Amosa, 31, and eight-year-old Vatau Fakavae are allowed to return to Tuvalu after they got stuck in a Scottish village because of flight cancellations and international restrictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic

From the left: Amosa Soani, Vatau Fakavae and Tumau Amosa from the small Pacific Island of Tuvalu have been stranded in Ayrshire for a year due to Covid-19
From the left: Amosa Soani, Vatau Fakavae and Tumau Amosa from the small Pacific Island of Tuvalu have been stranded in Ayrshire for a year due to Covid-19

A family from a paradise island 9,000 miles away have been told they can return home after a U-turn by airline chiefs.

Grandfather Amosa Soani, 60, his son Tumau Amosa, 31, and eight-year-old Vatau Fakavae are allowed to return to Tuvalu in time for Christmas after they became stuck in the Ayrshire village of Stair due to the pandemic.

The family have been staying with relatives – Tumau’s sister Nafiata and her husband Neil McNaughton, the Daily Record reports.

They will be flying from Glasgow on December 4 to Hong Kong and then Fiji before getting to their home island of Nanumanga, Tuvalu.

The family came to visit relatives in November 2019 and have been unable to return to their island
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Image:

Daily Record)

It comes after Neil Jnr had gone back and forth with British Airways to get his relatives back home after dozens of cancelled flights over the past 18 months.

Last week, the airline claimed the ticket reference for Tumau had vanished off their system and said as a passenger, he “did not exist”.

Despite having a host of previously attempted bookings right up until August this year, the airline claimed that Tumau as a passenger “did not exist”.

Neil was called by the airline who created a new reference and booked Tumau on the flight back home with his family.

Neil said: “It’s taken us two years to get to this point and get them on a flight.

The family are doing to be flying back to Tuvalu on December 4
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Image:

Daily Record)

“The phone call came at the 11th hour, we were ready to give up, take a refund and just move on to try and find another route for them back home which could have taken months.

“I set out to help get them home. I’m so glad we managed to achieve that.”

The family came to Scotland from their home island of Nanumanga in November 2019 – which is one of nine islands that make up Tuvalu.

However, their six month holiday turned into a near two-year lockdown after a series of cancelled flights and international restrictions preventing their return home.

Neil admits he is a little sad to say goodbye.

Vatua came to Scotland aged six and will return home eight years old after completing nearly two full school years and will miss his classmates.

Tumau has begun to enjoy Scottish life and hopes to return one day.

The grandfather is happy to return to resume his duties as chief of a village of 300 people.

During their time in Scotland, they hosted delegates from Tuvalu as they came for Cop26.

A spokesperson for British Airways: “We are looking forward to flying our customers home soon.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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