Borders are largely tight. Tourism companies are taking drastic measures, airlines are further restricting their offers. Traveling in times of the coronavirus crisis is becoming more and more difficult – also domestically.

The coronavirus crisis hits travelers and the tourism industry with full force. Several tour operators, including industry leader Tui, canceled trips, some airlines are ceasing to operate for the time being, and holiday islands in Germany have been closed to tourists since Monday.

The federal government assumes that several thousand Germans are stuck abroad – and is also issuing a worldwide travel warning. She wants to bring back thousands of German tourists stranded abroad because of the corona pandemic with an “airlift”. In the coming days, package travelers from particularly affected areas will initially be flown home, as Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) said in Berlin on Tuesday. These included “essentially initially” Morocco, Egypt, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines and the Maldives.

Several travel providers had already taken drastic measures the day before. The world’s largest tourism group Tui canceled package tours, cruises and hotel operations until further notice. Tui Germany suspended the travel program up to and including March 27th. “At the moment we are all in an unprecedented exceptional situation. We are currently working flat out to bring all holidaymakers back home reliably,” said Marek Andryszak, CEO of Tui Germany. Many return flights would be carried out regularly.

Location for travel in the summer months still unclear

Customers who have already booked trips for the summer months, for example, have to be patient for the time being – free cancellation is currently not possible, said a Tui spokesman. It is assumed, however, that operations will be able to start again in a few weeks.

The company from Hanover also wants to take an austerity course because of the economic damage caused by the spread of the Covid-19 pathogen and apply to the federal government for state aid to bridge the gap. On the stock exchange, the Tui share collapsed by more than a third at times at the beginning of the week.

The FTI Group canceled all trips until the end of March and applied for state guarantees. Studiosus cancels all dates by the end of March. For Wikinger Reisen, the stop applies until the end of April 2020.

After trips abroad, it is now also affecting popular holiday regions at home. All northern German coastal states closed their islands in the North and Baltic Seas to tourists on Monday. These include Sylt, Amrum, Föhr, Fehmarn and Nordstrand. In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the measures on Rügen, Usedom, Hiddensee and Poel are to be gradually introduced due to the size of the islands and the numerous direct connections to the mainland.

The state government of Baden-Württemberg wants to stop operations at all airports in the state, the German press agency learned from government circles in Stuttgart. Travelers from abroad would still be brought back. Anyone who comes from a crisis region has to be in quarantine. The decision should therefore come into force during the week.

Large German airports should remain open

Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) wants to keep large German airports such as Frankfurt and Munich open. “We are working on maintaining the infrastructure, especially because of supply and logistics,” said Scheuer of the dpa. “I am in close coordination with the federal states and the airport operators on this issue.”

At the largest German airport in Frankfurt, operations are significantly restricted. Around 1,000 take-offs and landings were planned for Monday, as a spokesman for the operator Fraport reported. That would only be around 400 less than in normal operation. However, the aircraft are much emptier than usual, because instead of 170,000 passengers as usual, only around 90,000 are currently expected.

Reason for the economy operation are always new entry restrictions in different countries and flight cancellations by the companies due to poor occupancy. Europe’s largest low-cost airline Ryanair is cutting its flight program by up to 80 percent. The Austrian subsidiary Lauda will cease operations from midnight to April 8th.

Lufthansa, which accounts for more than two-thirds of all flight movements in Frankfurt, is also reducing its offer. Accordingly, only every tenth planned long-distance flight should take place and about every fifth short- and medium-haul connection. Originally, the company had planned around 13,000 flights a week in the summer flight schedule.

The subsidiary Austrian Airlines (AUA) wants to cease its regular flight operations from this Thursday (March 19) to March 28. The vacation airline Condor is also reducing its offer to important vacation destinations such as the USA, the Caribbean and Turkey. The company is still sending planes to the target areas these days to bring vacationers back. “We’re flying empty to Turkey to bring people home,” said a Condor spokeswoman.

According to the Federal Foreign Office, German citizens, especially in Turkey, Morocco, Indonesia and the Philippines, have difficulties returning to Germany. A spokeswoman said that there was intensive discussion with airlines and tour operators “in order to find the most pragmatic and quickest possible solutions” for an exit.

In the past few days, more and more countries had cut flight connections and largely closed borders. That is why the Federal Foreign Office has been advising against traveling abroad since Sunday – an unprecedented process. “The risk that you will no longer be able to make your return trip due to increasing restrictions is currently high in many destinations,” wrote Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) on Twitter.

Experts anticipate a wave of bankruptcies

According to industry experts, the coronavirus crisis will lead to a huge wave of bankruptcies in the international aviation industry. At the end of May, most airlines in the world are likely to be insolvent, wrote the consulting company Capa.

According to the analysts, the large companies that can count on support from their home countries will survive. In addition to the large providers from China and the USA, there are likely to be a few companies from Europe and the airlines from the Arabian Gulf.

Emily Wong

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