A good five weeks after the federal government’s return campaign for Germans stranded abroad because of the corona pandemic, the last flight has started.
A machine chartered by the Federal Foreign Office took off late Thursday evening in Cape Town, South Africa, with around 300 passengers on board for Germany. This completes the largest part of the most extensive return campaign in the history of the Federal Republic after the return of a total of around 240,000 people. The German embassies worldwide are now continuing to deal with the remaining individual cases in a second phase.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas launched the “airlift” on March 17, together with tour operators and airlines, after many countries closed borders and cut flight connections at short notice. The Federal Foreign Office itself chartered planes that brought back around 66,000 people from 65 countries in 260 flights, including around 6,100 citizens from other EU countries and 3,300 people from other countries.
From South Africa alone there were 20 return flights with 4,500 Germans and more than 1,200 other EU citizens. The tourists were brought from their holiday destinations to the departure point in a logistical effort. South Africa had imposed a strict curfew in the fight against the corona virus at the end of March, closed all land borders and also ceased commercial flight operations.
South Africa was therefore one of the biggest problem cases in the campaign. But it was also particularly difficult in the meantime in New Zealand, India, Cameroon and the Philippines. In Peru, the situation was aggravated by the fact that the local authorities had imposed strict quarantine measures on a group of German citizens on suspected infection.
The most distant places from which Germans were picked up were the island states of Tonga, Vanuatu and the Cook Islands. A total of 66 Germans were stuck there. 34 EU citizens from other countries were flown out.
The returnees must contribute to the flight costs. The topic was initially postponed by the Federal Foreign Office. However, ticket prices will probably correspond to a flight in economy class.