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ROUNDUP: Thousands of open invoices after the Corona return campaign

Monday, 12/27/2021 6:41 AM from

dpa-AFX

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BERLIN (dpa-AFX) – Almost two years after the largest return campaign in the history of the Federal Republic at the beginning of the corona pandemic, thousands of bills are still open. Around 7,000 of the more than 54,000 payment notices sent by the Foreign Office to the passengers on the 260 rescue flights have not yet been paid or not yet paid, as the German press agency learned from the ministry. For the most part, the payment period is still running or payment in installments has been agreed. In 1200 cases, however, the ministry had to initiate dunning proceedings. Many passengers argue against participation in the costs in court. Of the original 201 lawsuits, 135 are still pending.

The then Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) started the campaign on March 17, 2020 together with tour operators and airlines after many countries closed borders and cut flight connections at short notice. A total of around 240,000 travelers were returned. The tour operators themselves flew the tourists who had booked with them free of charge.

Total costs of 93.8 million euros

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Berlin administrative court dismissed two lawsuits

A week before Christmas, the Berlin administrative court ruled in two individual cases that the passengers’ participation in the costs of the flights is lawful. The lawsuit of a family of six who was brought from Mexico and was supposed to pay 600 euros per person was heard. The Lufthansa charter flight (Lufthansa share) with 282 passengers, the Foreign Office cost 612,000 euros, 2170 euros per passenger.

There was also a family of three who flew back from New Zealand and were supposed to pay 1000 euros per person. For the empty outbound flight and the return flight from New Zealand with 300 passengers, Lufthansa charged 995,000 euros, more than 3,300 euros per seat.

The judge said the government was legally entitled to bill some of the costs. The requested lump sums were “well below the actual costs”. The plaintiffs’ lawyers argued that some of the travelers had already booked cheaper return flights that were not reimbursed. In addition, the consular law, which the Federal Foreign Office invokes, applies to aid in the event of a disaster, but not to a pandemic.

The lawsuits are not yet final. It should take a few more months for the return campaign to be completed./mfi/DP/stk

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