A WIGGLESWORTH couple are hoping they will be back home by early next week after finally securing a flight out of New Zealand.

David and Anne Clarke were holidaying in New Zealand when the coronavirus pandemic prompted many countries to effect a lockdown.

The couple had been travelling in the country since February 27 and had been due to fly from Auckland to Australia on March 22 to stay with family.

But as the virus began to accelerate around the world, airports started to close and border restrictions suddenly meant the Clarkes were unable to enter Australia.

Another flight they secured for the 24th would have meant a stop in Melbourne, which would not happen, and Dubai, but Dubai suspended flights too and New Zealand went into lockdown at midnight that same night.

Mr Clarke said it was frustrating and got a limited response from the High Commission in Wellington but they did get registered with the Commission and received official updates each day.

“We contacted Skipton MP Julian Smith but he was only able to quote the Foreign Office official line.

“We understand the challenges coronavirus is bringing to all countries around the world and realise our plight is not unique, however we are well and we are safe. We appreciate that others are in a more difficult situation.”

Mr Clarke said they managed to secure AirBnB accommodation for a week while they continued their hunt for travel home.

“We are fortunate to have secured accommodation for this week. We know others are not finding that easy to do.

“We tried, as have others, to get early flights home but these have either been cancelled or are reported as being available next week at very inflated prices and still routed through airports which closed to international flights.”

He added that thanks to a WhatsApp group he and his wife were able to keep up to date and find out how their friends were managing in Wigglesworth.

They also kept abreast of UK news and were encouraged with Dominic Raab’s announcement of extra flights being put on.

On Saturday, March 28, a breakthrough came and the Clarkes were able to book a flight via Doha, in Qatar, for Saturday April 4.

However, as events change world-wide, they continue to be glued to the news.

He added: “Restrictions on travel to the airport here in Auckland and on international flights have increased so we are not building our hopes up yet.”