Wellington / Johannesburg / Brussels – In the corona crisis, the German government gathers holidaymakers all over the world who are stranded and bring them home.
Most German travelers were still stuck in New Zealand. The return program, which had been stopped in the meantime, could now start again. A total of 194,000 German tourists have been brought back so far, Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Friday after consulting his 26 EU counterparts. According to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, a total of 250,000 EU citizens are still stuck outside of Europe. 350,000 have already been retrieved.
In the future, the EU states want to work more closely together on the return of holidaymakers stranded abroad. It was agreed that “we would coordinate the dates and the flights we book even more closely,” said the SPD politician. Citizens of other European countries should fly in the aircraft of another country. Germany has already taken more than 3,000 citizens from other EU countries with it in the return campaigns because of the corona pandemic.
Since most package travelers are now back in Germany, it is now a question of more distant countries or states that are getting more complicated, said Maas. “But there will also be cases where someone is in the Colombian jungle or is sitting on an island in the Philippines where, due to the curfew, no progress is possible. We also take care of these cases. » However, it cannot be guaranteed that every individual case will be resolved.
The return flights have now started where the greatest problems have been so far, said Maas, citing New Zealand, India, and South Africa. Germany started the campaign in mid-March in order to bring back German travelers from countries from which there are no longer regular flights, together with tour operators and airlines.
In New Zealand, a plane left Auckland for Vancouver late Friday afternoon (local time), according to Air New Zealand. There were 342 passengers on board. After a stop in Vancouver, the plane should reach Frankfurt early Saturday morning. According to the German embassy in Wellington, 12,000 Germans had registered for the return program in the Pacific state. There will be further evacuation flights from Auckland and Christchurch in the coming days.
A day-long tremor ends for the vacationers. “We are simply relieved and also confident that it will finally start someday,” said Sophia Munder-Fuhring from Hamburg, who had to wait in a motel in Christchurch. The Federal Foreign Office launched the return campaign from New Zealand on Saturday. After a first flight, all other planned flights were surprisingly stopped. The government in Wellington then announced on Thursday that it would allow other governments to fly out of the beach.
The return campaign for thousands of stuck German and other European tourists began in South Africa on Friday. German holidaymakers are currently being flown out of Thailand with special machines.
Tourists were also brought home by land. The German embassy in Vienna enabled 121 Germans to leave the quarantine in the Austrian winter sports resort of Solden. As the embassy announced on Friday, the group was led to the Scharnitz / Mittenwald border crossing after a medical check-in private cars and on buses provided by the embassy. Solden has been in quarantine since March 17 because of the coronavirus pandemic.