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Switzerland starts debt collection process against citizens repatriated due to Covid

The Swiss government has started debt collection proceedings to recover almost half a million francs spent on Covid repatriations.

A Swiss flight takes off at Geneva Airport
Switzerland spent more than seven million francs repatriating citizens in the first wave of the Covid pandemic. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Swiss authorities have begun debt collections against people who were flown back to the country at the government’s expense at the start of the pandemic. 

More than 90 percent of the money spent by the government in the repatriation flights – or 6.9 million of an estimated 7.5 million francs – has been recovered. 

In March and April of 2020, Switzerland started repatriating Swiss citizens from across the globe as the seriousness of the Covid pandemic became clear. 

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The process – which involved 35 charter flights – was the largest repatriation in Swiss history, bringing 4,200 people back home. 

While the government indicated it would take on around ten percent of the costs, the rest was to be paid by passengers. 

The government has sent out 1,700 invoices to recoup its costs. 

While the amount was initially more than half a million francs, the government has written off close to 200,000CHF. 

The government hopes to collect the remaining 380,000 via debt collection procedures. An estimated 367 invoices remain outstanding. 

A government spokesperson confirmed to Watson on Monday that this was made additionally complex by the fact that many of those who owe money live abroad. 

“A collection process is usually lengthy,” EDA spokesman Pierre-Alain Eltschinger said. 

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Swiss airlines warn of ticket price hikes and more summer cancellations

Air passengers in Switzerland should be braced for higher prices and more summer cancellations, Swiss airlines warned.

Swiss airlines warn of ticket price hikes and more summer cancellations

Passengers taking flights in Switzerland this summer and beyond have  been told to expect to pay higher prices and face more travel headaches and changes due to cancellations.

It’s not unusual that prices of plane tickets increase just before high-volume travel times like summer holidays.

This year, however, as the war in Ukraine is causing fuel costs to go up, airline tickets will be more expensive even during low-travel periods like fall.

SWISS airline, for instance, has increased the prices of its flights worldwide in recent months, and could continue this upward trend in the autumn.

“Due to the current price of crude oil, further price adjustments for air travel are likely this year,” the company spokesperson said.

SWISS’ sister airline, Edelweiss Air, also confirmed its passengers are facing higher costs

“Flying in the future may cost more than in previous years,” the company predicted.

SWISS airline already said on June 8th that it is cancelling a number of flights from both Zurich in Geneva during the busy summer travel season, including those to London Heathrow and San Francisco.

On Sunday, Switzerland’s national airline announced that on top of the flights already suspended, “further cuts unfortunately cannot be avoided due to resource constraints and operational challenges across the airline industry”.

The carrier did not specify which routes will be affected, but said passengers “will be actively informed. Automatic reservation changes will be made or individual solutions will be sought”.