Coronavirus: German and US tourists flown home on special flights

Holidaymakers from both countries were stranded when flights were halted last week

German tourists load their bags into an airport baggage scanner ahead of their flight home to Frankfurt on Saturday. Wam
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Hundreds of German and US tourists were flown home from Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi after being stranded due to the global aviation shut down.

A total 329 passengers, most of whom are German citizens, departed from RAK International Airport on two flights on Saturday.

The UAE Government, the German Embassy and the airport arranged the operation, state news agency Wam said.

Officials said the airport was chosen as it was ready to screen and check in large numbers of passengers quickly.

German charter airline Sundair was used for the repatriation flight.

The first of two services to Frankfurt departed at 1pm local time and the second at 2pm, overseen by German Consul-General Holger Mahnicke.

Among the 329 passengers was a Romanian, two Turks, three Poles, one Kosovan and one Croat.

In Abu Dhabi, the US Embassy helped facilitate the departure of 26 American citizens on a special flight operated by Etihad Airways on Friday.

US ambassador to the UAE, John Rakolta, met the group at Abu Dhabi International Airport before their departure.

Eight of the passengers were transferred from Dubai International Airport after being stuck in the transit area for several days. And several were UAE residents who requested assistance to return home to the US to be with family during the Covid-19 crisis.

The flight from Abu Dhabi departed at 9.10pm on Friday and arrived at Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC in the early hours of Saturday morning.

On Saturday, a flydubai charter flight from Dubai to the Croatian capital Zagreb took off carrying about 130 European citizens.

Among them were 32 Brits, who were put onto a connecting flight to London Heathrow.

Special charter flights do not show up on airline search engines. Tourists or residents who urgently need to return home should contact their local embassy in the Emirates.

"The airports are closed but some airlines are being granted permission for departures," the British Embassy said in a tweet.

"We are working with the UAE government and airlines to progress all options to get you home.”

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