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Chartered flights revive businesses between Germany and China post coronavirus

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As more German business travelers have returned to China by chartered flights, their business resumption is expected to enter a fast track, which is key to guaranteeing the stability of industrial chain cooperation between China and Germany, experts told the Global Times.

A chartered flight from Germany landed at Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 12:53 pm Thursday, carrying 200 managers, employees and their families, according to the German Chamber of Commerce in China.

Rouven Kasper, FC Bayern Munich President Asia, who was on that flight, told the Global Times Friday that everybody needed to pass the very controlled formalities in advance. Before departing from Germany and after arriving in China, COVID-19 tests and two-week quarantine were required despite negative test results, he added.

“Everybody is excited to come back to China. In my opinion, the flight stands symbolically for the strong Sino-German alliance, partnership and friendship,” he noted.

The special flight was arranged by the German Chamber of Commerce in China, German diplomatic missions in China and Lufthansa Airlines, and it is the second batch of management professionals of German companies returning to China.

The first arrived from Germany to North China’s Tianjin Municipality on Saturday carrying 200 Germans. However, one passenger was tested positive for the coronavirus after arriving, though he did not show any symptoms.

The two flights are the first repatriation flights of foreign nationals from Europe to return to China after the country contained the coronavirus outbreak amid a gradual resumption of economic activities.

The Chamber told the Global Times on Friday it expects more chartered flights to be arranged without specifying the number and dates. 

It also noted that many inquiries have been received in recent days about the next flight.

A survey by the Chamber in May showed about 2,000 to 2,500 Germany experts, employees and their families want to fly back to China on chartered planes.

Managing the balance between preventing imported cases of COVID-19 and getting economic activities back on track, China has begun to gradually lift restrictions on flights to the country.

China’s civil aviation regulator on Thursday adjusted policies for international passenger flights, allowing more foreign carriers to resume flights to China on a once-a-week basis starting Monday. 

“Round-trip flights in designated cities is the trend, and more Germans are expected to fly back to China this way,” Cui Hongjian, director of EU Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times Friday.

The green-lighted chartered flights indicate the mutual trust between China and Germany, and the return of German executives and employees reflects the need of both countries to stabilize the supply and industrial chains in manufacturing and the chemical industry, Cui said.

The return of German executives, who are usually the decision makers, is good news for facilitating on-site projects.

“We appreciate the support and efforts of Chinese authorities, German Embassy and German Chamber to help German companies resume business in China in the best possible way. Relevant employees are returning to China in an orderly manner. The health and safety of the employees is our top priority,” Audi China said in a note sent to the Global Times on Friday.

Two colleagues of Kasper were also on the second flight, and their return would make the work resumption rate of the club’s Shanghai office up to almost 95 percent, he said.

“Within the last weeks, we developed many new products and ideas which we need to continue to discuss in person to execute. And I am very eager to meet our partners to monitor and discuss all relevant status and plans on both sides to get out of this crisis together,” Kasper said.

GLOBAL TIMES

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