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Romanian fruit and veg pickers to arrive in UK on charter flight

Up to 180 Eastern European farm workers will arrive at Stansted Airport in Essex on Thursday.

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Fruit and vegetable pickers are being flown from Romania to the UK to keep up with demand for food (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Fruit and vegetable pickers are being flown from Romania to the UK to keep up with demand for food (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Fruit and vegetable pickers are being flown from Romania to the UK to keep up with demand for food (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Fruit and vegetable pickers are being flown from Romania to the UK to keep up with demand.

An air charter company said it has arranged for a flight to bring up to 180 Eastern European farm workers to Stansted Airport in Essex on Thursday.

It has been reported that up to five more flights are planned.

The National Farmers’ Union has expressed concern about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on recruitment of workers to pick fruit and vegetables this summer.

Demand for groceries surged as people stockpiled food due to the outbreak.

Surrey-based Air Charter Service told the PA news agency that a private farming company in the UK has paid for Thursday’s flight. It did not name the firm.

An Airbus A320 aircraft will be used, at an estimated cost of £200-£250 per seat.

This is much more expensive than typical air fares with low-cost carriers, but nearly all scheduled commercial flights have been grounded as a result of travel restrictions and the collapse in demand caused by Covid-19.

Air Charter Service confirmed that an airline based at Stansted would operate the flight, which was booked last week.

Carriers based at the Essex airport include Ryanair, Jet2.com and Tui Airways.

At least 10 other flights have been arranged by Air Charter Service to take farm workers from Romania and Bulgaria to Germany.

The company said it has seen a surge in demand for charter flights due to the pandemic, including to repatriate people stranded around the world.

PA