Last Couple in Paradise: Stuck in the Maldives, Newlyweds May End Up on the Straw

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A newlywed South African couple has been stranded in the Maldives since March 22 due to coronavirus containment. Surrounded by staff and having to pay hotel costs, they may soon be ruined. Their only solution: a return by private jet at more than 96,000 euros.

This couple is going from dream to nightmare. As The New York Times reports , Olivia and Raul De Freitas are two honeymooners currently stranded on their honeymoon at a five-star resort in the Maldives.

Arrived there on March 22, their romantic getaway was originally intended to last six days. Teacher and butcher, this dream trip was for them "an extravagance", of the bride's own admission. If they had any travel concerns, given the growing travel restrictions imposed due to the worldwide coronavirus epidemic, their travel agent assured them that, regardless of the policy ahead, all South African citizens would be allowed to return home.

On Wednesday, March 25, they had the bad news to learn that their country's airports would be closed before midnight Thursday.

Return flights to South Africa last five hours to Doha, Qatar, before a three-hour stopover, followed by a nine-hour flight to Johannesburg. So even if they had been able to get a flight, they would never have been able to get home on time. South African Airways announced on Friday that all international flights will be suspended until the end of May.

All the other vacationers on the tourist site have managed, sometimes in extremis, to return home. The couple therefore planned to take a speedboat to return to the main island in an hour and a half and try their luck at the airport. Unfortunately, the Maldives also announced its own border locks at around the same time, banning all new foreign travelers to their territory. They therefore stayed in their luxurious hotel complex.

A private jet for more than 96,000 euros!

First philosophers and happy to be stuck in paradise, they understood that they were going to be in a delicate financial situation after having contacted the authorities. The South African consulate in the Maldives, and the nearest South African embassy in Sri Lanka, told them that there were about 40 other South Africans spread across the Maldives in the same case as them. An embassy representative explained to them that their best option was to charter a private jet, at their own expense, for 104,000 dollars, or more than 96,000 euros!

Mr. De Freitas, described by his wife as the calm one, took the strange turn of events in stride. This would all get sorted out, and, besides, they were in paradise. Ms. De Freitas, naturally, shared some of her husband’s delight, but sensed a logistical nightmare worthy of Kafka was about to ensue.

They reached out to the South African Consulate in the Maldives, and the closest South African Embassy, in Sri Lanka, for help. A representative told them, via WhatsApp, that there were around 40 other South Africans spread among the Maldives, and that their option home would be to hire a chartered jet, at their own expense, for $104,000.

Everyone could split the cost, the message noted, but the government had only connected with around half of the 40 people; of those 20, many were unable or refusing to pay. The fewer the number of people on board, the more expensive each share would become. Even so, after several days of discussions between South African representatives and the Maldivian Foreign Ministry, the flight still hasn’t been approved.

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