U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents stranded overseas due to the coronavirus pandemic continue to trickle home to be with family, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Washington Dulles International Airport continue to process their arrivals. Since March 20, CBP officers have processed more than 14,000 returning evacuees and flights are continuing.
The flights, coordinated by the U.S. Department of State and flown by commercial and charter airlines, arrived nearly every day at Dulles airport. In total, 60 flights will have landed 14,365 evacuees back in the United States during the past 25 days.
CBP worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify evacuees who arrived from countries subjected to Presidential proclamation in the event an enhanced health screening was required.
One of the challenges imposed by the immediacy of these evacuation flights was the submission of partial passenger information submitted to CBP by numerous information sources. CBP relies on advanced passenger information to ensure a traveler’s identity and to identify potential impostors to U.S. travel documents. Close coordination throughout the process between the State Department, CBP, CDC, participating airlines and other government and non-governmental partners minimized those concerns and ensured these U.S. citizens could get home as quickly as possible.
“These evacuation flights remain a monumental task involving a lot of moving parts working in unison to get these people home,” said Javier Cortes, CBP’s Acting Area Port Director for the Area Port of Washington D.C. “I’m proud of our Customs and Border Protection officers, the airport and charter airlines, and other Federal partners for their work – as always, they stepped up when there was a real need.”
The U.S. evacuees arrived on 60 flights from across the globe. Flights averaged about 239 passengers, with a high of 396 passengers who arrived from Qatar, and a low of six who arrived from the Azores. The following is an evacuee breakdown by continent:
- 26 flights from Africa with 6,667 passengers;
- 13 flights from South America with 3,398 passengers;
- 11 flights from Europe with 1,708 passengers;
- 10 flights from Asia with 2,592 passengers;
- the most flights, 12, arrived from Peru evacuating 3,156 passengers.
CDC and health professionals were on site to conduct enhanced health screening for those subjected to screenings under Presidential proclamation. After the passengers completed their arrivals inspections, airlines arranged for flights to carry them the rest of the way home to be with family.