Lufthansa's guarantee to bring German passengers home, no matter the global circumstance, could usher in a pivot of repatriation responsibilities away from home governments and onto the private travel sector.
Lufthansa will bring home any Germans it flies abroad on vacation, Chief Executive Carsten Spohr said in a newspaper interview, seeking to assuage holidaymakers’ concerns that new coronavirus outbreaks could leave them stranded.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Wednesday said that Germany would not undertake another repatriation initiative this summer, as it did when the coronavirus pandemic struck earlier this year.
But in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Spohr sought to address Germans’ concerns about booking foreign holidays in case there is a coronavirus outbreak in their country of destination while they are away.
“We are aware of this (concern), which is why we are introducing a homecoming guarantee. Whoever wants to return to Germany, we will bring back,” he told the newspaper.
“Be it because they are not allowed to enter the country due to an elevated temperature at their destination, or because they have to be quarantined there, or because of a virus outbreak in the host country – in all these cases there will be a guaranteed return flight.”
Lufthansa has pledged a wide-ranging restructuring, from thousands of job cuts to asset sales, as it seeks to repay a 9 billion euro ($10.2 billion) state bailout and navigate deepening losses in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
(Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by David Goodman)
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Photo credit: Lufthansa's CEO Carsten Spohr promised to bring German citizens home in light of any future pandemic travel restrictions after the government said it would not undertake another round of repatriation flights. TJDarmstadt / Wikimedia