London (ANTARA) - As many as 239 Indonesian crew members of AIDAstella and AIDAnova cruise ships have returned home aboard a chartered flight Condor from Frankfurt Airport on Saturday (May 2).

The crew members departed from Canary Island before they flew to Indonesia from Frankfurt, socio-cultural function official of the Indonesian Embassy in Berlin, Hannan Hadi said in a statement.

Vice President for communication of AIDA Hansjorg Kunze said the company has stopped all its shipping operation since March 13, after in February it suspended two shipping routes in Asia over COVID-19 fears.

Since then, the company has anchored most of its 14 ships in Canary Island and Tenerif.

"Following the decision to suspend the operation, we tried to return passengers to their countries of origin. Then, we continue to return all crew members and employees to their home countries. We thanked to the fast response and good coordination with all parties, including the Indonesian Embassy in Berlin," Kunze said.

The Indonesian Embassy in Berlin has received the initial information on the plan to return AIDA cruise ship's crew members on April 23, and worked in intensive coordination with the authority in Germany and Condor Airline.

A medical team of AIDA has monitored the crew's health condition, in cooperation with the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CC), WHO, and German Robert-Koch Institute (RKI), to ensure that all the returnees did not contract COVID-19 infection..

"We have worked in coordination with AIDA, we firmly required all crew members to have a health certificate issued by the authority to certify that they are free from COVID-19," Indonesian Ambassador in Berlin Arif Havas Oegroseno said

Previously on April 16, 56 crew members of Mein Schiff 4 ship were returned home aboard a commercial flight.

In the near future, some more ships crew members will be returned home.

Meanwhile, the chartered Condor flight DE 8536 carrying the 239 crew members is scheduled to arrive at Soekarno Hatta Airport in Cengkareng, Banten on Sunday (May 3).

From the airport, the crew will be transported by bus to their home towns. Crew members from Sulawesi Island will be accommodated in a hotel until domestic flights to their home towns are reopened.

The cost of the flight and their accommodation in Indonesia was borne by AIDA.

At least 1,000 Indonesians worked for AIDA, most of them as ship's crew members and some others as office staff in its headquarters in Rostock and Hamburg, Germany.

According to Kunze, the company has paid the crew's salaries. Some of them have their contract expired.

For crews who have yet to finish their contract, the company will pay salary for the next 60 days after they arrived at their home countries.

Indonesian crews are popular among passengers because of their hospitality, Kunze said. He expressed hope for the crew members to return to work for the shipping company after the situation has returned to normal.

AIDA cruise company has some 15 thousand workers of which 13,500 are ships' crew.

AIDA offers cruises to North America, Northern Europe, Western Europe, Southeast Asia, Canary Islands, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Baltic Sea, Red Sea, Black Sea and Dubai cruises.

Since 2003 it was organized as a wholly owned subsidiary of Carnival Corporation & plc, one of the world's largest travel leisure company. Following the merger, executive control of AIDA Cruises was transferred to Costa Cruises Group, one of the main operating companies of Carnival Corporation & plc.
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Translator: Zeynita Gibbons, Sri Haryati
Editor: Suharto
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