FDFA launches extensive repatriation action - first flights to Costa Rica and Colombia underway
Bern, 23.03.2020 - The FDFA has launched an unprecedented repatriation action. Yesterday the first flight left Switzerland for Costa Rica. An Airbus A-340 of the airline "Edelweiss" is currently on its way to Colombia. In the coming weeks the FDFA is planning dozens of additional flights to Latin America, Asia and Africa.
The FDFA estimates that some tens of thousands of Swiss travellers – tourists and business travellers – are currently abroad. Last week they were requested by the Federal Council to return to Switzerland. Around 17,000 Swiss citizens have now registered their trip on the Travel Admin App. Many of them are no longer able to leave because of local restrictions to contain the coronavirus.
The FDFA has therefore launched an unprecedented repatriation action together with Swiss/Edelweiss. A first flight departed yesterday from Zurich to San José (Costa Rica). A chartered aircraft is on its way to Bogotà (Colombia) since noon today. And another flight to Lima (Peru) is planned for tomorrow. These flights will bring a total of around 750 Swiss tourists back to Switzerland.
Difficult situation on site
This recall operation poses major challenges for the FDFA - in terms of organization and implementation. Many blocked tourists in these countries are not in the capital, but in remote places. In Peru, for example, 120 Swiss travellers are currently staying in the city of Cusco, 570 kilometres from Lima. As the roads are closed, the embassy in Peru is in the process of organising a charter flight to bring the people to Lima.
Further flights planned
In view of the large number of Swiss travellers abroad, planning for further repatriations is running parallel to the current actions. These will be organised in close cooperation with the crisis centres of other countries, in particular Switzerland's neighbouring states, in order to achieve the greatest efficiency. The FDFA expects dozens of flights to be carried out in the coming weeks.
The focus is currently on destinations in Latin America, Asia and Africa. The countries will be announced once the technical flight clarifications have been completed and the Swiss representations have been informed.
Travellers should register on App
The FDFA continues to ask all tourists to register their journey and whereabouts quickly on the Travel Admin App. All tourists who have already returned to Switzerland or who have not started their trip are requested to delete their trip from the app immediately. This allows the FDFA to concentrate its support on those persons who are currently abroad and wish to return to Switzerland.
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Federal Department of Foreign Affairs