When the Covid-19 crisis was in it’s infancy most governments have started a monumental effort to repatriate their citizens back home following border closures and cancellations by common carriers.
These repatriation flights aren’t usually free and some of the cost has to be covered by the passengers who sign a promissory note prior to the flight that they will reimburse the government at a determined cost – this is now causing big waves in Germany.
The German government has repatriated 55,750 German citizens (+11,000 citizens of EU/Other Countries) from abroad and this operation incurred a cost of 94 Million Euro – 40% of these expenses were set to be recouped by having passengers pay for part of this effort.
The government has chartered aircraft from Condor, Lufthansa and some others to execute this operation.
As FOCUS Magazine reports (in German) the effort to get people to pay up has been rather difficult and now there are many who have sued the government over their liability for these costs.
According to the article the Foreign Ministry has so far sent 12.200 invoices to passengers on these flights:
- 806 Invoices for 200 Euro for flights ex Canary Islands / North Africa
- 1342 Invoices for 500 Euro for flights ex South Africa and the Caribbean,
- 7409 Invoices for 600 Euro for flights ex South America and Asia,
- 2645 Invoices for 1000 Euro for flights ex aus New Zealand and Australia.
More invoices based on the promissory notes will be send in the coming weeks / months.
So far the total of the billing efforts has reached 7,92 Million Euro for recipients within Germany. The problem? So far the government has received only 4,46 Million Euro as payments, the rest is already overdue.
And some don’t plan on paying at all, having filed lawsuits against the government. 30 plaintiffs have already filed suit at courts in Berlin with a variety of arguments why the invoiced amount shouldn’t be paid.
The issue here is that nobody told the people beforehand how much they’d have to pay for the repatriation, the promissary note had to be signed blank. Many now were surprised about the total of their invoice while still waiting for refunds from their original airline.
According to FOCUS the E.U. will pay 35% of these flights, the passengers 40% and the remainder of 25% is covered by the German government.
This controversy isn’t new. Citizens of the U.S., Canada and other nations have also complained publicly that they have to pay for their flights. Many simply not understanding the giant costs behind such an operation and that their government isn’t a tour operator. Even for taxpaying citizens.
It shouldn’t be expected that the government and therefore the taxpayer pays for all these costs associated with repatriation. On the other hand one could argue the government throws hundreds of Millions out the window every year for helping out citizens of other countries so there might be at least some angle to a valid complaint. However anyone who took these flights signed the form provided by the embassy so they knew this was coming. Nobody forced them to repatriate.
I don’t think the amounts in question here are unreasonable for a one way flight, not even considering they got the passengers out of a dicey situation. Those who took these flights should show some responsibility and pay up!