News, Culture & Society

Special emergency flight from Southeast Asia lands in Sydney after evacuation due to COVID-19

Nearly 200 Australians who were evacuated from Cambodia on emergency coronavirus flight touch down in Sydney – and are taken straight into hotel quarantine

  • Australians stranded in Cambodia finally arrived in Sydney after special flight
  • The flight was arranged after Cambodian Prime Minister ordered restrictions
  • Passengers will be bused to hotels where they will have to isolate for 14 days 
  • Some passengers have spent weeks trying to leave the Southeast Asian country  
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

Almost 200 Australians who were stranded in Cambodia have finally arrived home after a special flight was arranged ahead of coronavirus lockdowns.

The Australian embassy in Cambodia helped arrange the flight which landed in Sydney on Monday morning.

Some passengers had been trying to get out of the country for weeks but many flights from Cambodia were repeatedly cancelled. 

All on board will be bused to hotels around Sydney where they will have to isolate for 14 days to prevent the spread of the deadly disease. 

Australians have landed in Sydney after a mercy flight from Cambodia was arranged ahead of lockdowns across the Southeast Asian country

The desperate flight was arranged amid growing concerns for the welfare of Australians stuck in the Southeast Asian country after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered cross-border restrictions on any travel between provinces. 

A spokesperson for the Australian embassy in Cambodia told AAP there were 164 Australian citizens, plus 20 permanent residents and family members boarded the flight as regular commercial options ‘were drying up fast’.

‘So we decided to facilitate this one-off non-scheduled flight to a transit country, which then connected to a scheduled flight on the same plane to Sydney,’ it said. 

‘Passengers paid for economy and business seats.’ 

Travellers were seen leaving the airport with face masks on as they made their way to the awaiting buses. 

Passenger Damien Shaw told reporters the flight had been packed with ‘virtually all seats taken’. 

‘There was a few empty seats.’

Travellers were seen leaving the airport with face masks on as they made their way to the buses

Travellers were seen leaving the airport with face masks on as they made their way to the buses

He said he was looking forward to spending two weeks in quarantine as it would give him a chance to cut back on his smoking.

Cambodia has been criticised for its slow response to the coronavirus pandemic, however attitudes have hardened recently and Prime Minister Hun Sen early on Tuesday cancelled next weeks annual Khmer New Year celebrations.


New South Wales: 2,854

Victoria: 1,268

Queensland: 983

South Australia: 429

Western Australia: 517

Australian Capital Territory: 102

Tasmania: 144

Northern Territory: 28



DEAD: 59

Heavy travel restrictions were also imposed between provinces earlier in the week which added a sense of urgency for the flight, with Australians living in the countryside told to make a speedy trip to the capital to avoid being locked out of the airport.

The embassy said it took ‘a lot of work to make this happen’ in ‘challenging circumstances’ adding this would also help relieve pressure on Cambodia’s healthcare system, which Australia continues to support through its aid program.

‘Great to have been able to help Aussies re-connect with loved ones back home through this flight,’ ambassador Pablo Kang said on his Twitter feed.

‘We thank all involved, including the government, for their assistance, and our passengers for their patience and understanding.’