Originally the airline had planned to bring back German tourists from Peru on Monday. But the country did not give Lufthansa permission to land.
Peru’s government is reacting to the Corona crisis with strong measures. Last week, the South American country not only imposed a 15-day curfew. It also closed its borders, banned people from entering and leaving the country and declared the airport of the capital Lima closed.
In the following days, however, several flights took off and landed at the Aeropuerto Internacional Jorge Chavez. On Saturday, the airport announced that El Al had brought Israelis back home from Lima on several return flights. A Lufthansa flight had also been planned for Monday.
Only cargo traffic to be maintained
The German ambassador on Saturday (March 21) addressed the German people in Peru in a message: «There is good news: On Monday, March 23, 2020, a Lufthansa aircraft is planned to fly from Lima to Germany! Destination is Frankfurt am Main.» However, he added, the final approval of the Peruvian authorities was still pending.
On Sunday, the stranded travellers were disappointed. The Peruvian government declared the airport of Lima to be completely closed for passenger flights. Only cargo traffic will be maintained. «Due to this circumstance, the Lufthansa flight announced for Monday 23 March 2020 has not received landing permission from the Peruvian authorities,» said the ambassador.
Lufthansa must switch to military Airport
«From now on, return flights on behalf of the German government will be handled via the military part of the airport,» the ambassador continued. The flight was only postponed, not cancelled.
Lufthansa confirmed to aeroTELEGRAPH that it was planning a flight to Lima on behalf of the Foreign Office. «Unfortunately, the Peruvian authorities have yet to grant permission to carry out the flight to Lima,» said a spokesman for the airline. As soon as the permit has been granted, the airline will «fly to Lima at short notice.» Further flights to the Peruvian capital have not yet been confirmed.
Embassy tries to organize domestic flights
The embassy gave an update a few hours later. «Germany is currently holding talks at a very high level with the Peruvian government and is pushing for the immediate allocation of sufficient landing permits for return flights to Germany,» it said in an e-mail to the stranded passengers. Germany is also working with embassies of other EU member states in Lima to make return flights possible.
The embassy further explained that efforts are also being made to arrange flights from the cities of Cusco and Arequipa to Lima, but that this also requires the approval of the Peruvian government. «In addition, we have begun to organize that German citizens who are outside the cities of Lima, Cusco and Arequipa can travel to Lima, to selected larger cities or to meeting points in the country.»
One flight might not be enough
According to information from the embassy, there are currently about 4000 Germans in Peru. Even if not all of them want to return to Germany, it is obvious that one flight will not be enough.
In Peru’s neighbouring country Ecuador, a mayor of the northern part of the country, last week was much more brutal in refusing to allow a return plane to land. She had city vehicles parked on the runway of Guayaquil airport so that Iberia- and KLM-planes could not land. They had been ordered to bring Spanish and Dutch tourists back to Europe.
Update: On March 26th it worked after all – the first return flight went with Lufthansa from Lima to Frankfurt. Further flights are planned