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1,500 state-repatriated travellers yet to pay flight bills

machu picchu
Peru was one of the destinations where stranded tourists were collected. Keystone / Karel Navarro

Of the 7,100 stranded passengers flown back to Switzerland by the foreign ministry’s Covid-19 repatriation operation, some 1,500 haven’t yet paid the bill, the SonntagsZeitung writes.

The invoices relate to the 35 international flights organised by the foreign ministry to bring home tourists stuck abroad due to Covid-19 lockdowns.

Back in March and April, when the Swiss foreign ministry took action to fly back stranded Swiss (and residents of other European nations) from certain countries, the individuals did not have to pay for the flights beforehand – but they did commit to footing the bill later.

Some 7,100 invoices were thus sent out, with the amounts varying according to the flight taken: CHF400 ($439) for short haul trips of less that 1,500 km, up to CHF1,700 for flights over 12,000 km.

With the 30-day payment window expired, however, the SonntagsZeitung writes that 1,500 of these bills remain unpaid, amounting to some CHF1.7 million ($1.87 million).

The foreign ministry plans to send out reminders to those who haven’t paid, the newspaper reports. And if this doesn’t work, it will possibly take legal action.

The total cost of the foreign ministry’s “historic” repatriation missions, using planes chartered from SWISS International Airlines and Edelweiss, came to CHF10 million. Destinations included Peru, Chile, Morocco, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast, among others.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR