German tourism giant TUI to receive €1.2 billion aid package

Tourism giant TUI and the German government agreed on Wednesday to a second massive aid package, in a sign of how the effects of the coronavirus pandemic are still battering the industry.

German tourism giant TUI to receive €1.2 billion aid package
A TUI plane parked at Hanover airport on April 8th. Photo: DPA

The Hanover-based company agreed to a 1.2 billion package with German public lender KfW, intended to bolster the firm through its winter 2020/21 season.

The new funds add to the 1.8 billion government loan that the company agreed to in April.

The company previously announced that it would cut 8,000 jobs worldwide to
reduce costs.

READ ALSO: German tourism giant TUI suspends most operations over coronavirus fears

TUI's hotels, flights and cruise ships were empty at the height of worldwide lockdowns and have struggled to reopen as major destinations such as Spain have seen virus infections spike and been subjected to further quarantines.

The additional money means TUI would have credit lines of 2.4 billion, according to the company. The new funds comprise 1.05 billion in loans and 150 million in convertible bonds.

“The 1.2 billion stabilisation package strengthens TUI's position and would provide sufficient liquidity in this volatile market environment,” TUI said in a statement.

CEO Fritz Joussen said the group had already introduced “massive cost
reductions in good time and implemented them quickly and consistently”.

“However, no one knows at present when a vaccine or medication will be
available and what effects the pandemic will have in individual markets in the
coming months,” Joussen added.

“Therefore it is right and important to take further precautions together with the German government.”

TUI announces its third-quarter results on Thursday.

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Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now