March 16, 2020 / 3:53 PM / 2 months ago

Frankfurt Airport 'must and will stay open' during epidemic - minister

A flight passenger, standing at a ticket counter of U.S. carrier United Airlines, wears a protective mask at Frankfurt Airport, Germany, March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

BERLIN (Reuters) - Airlines will temporarily be allowed to take off and land from Frankfurt Airport during the night, the transport minister for the regional government of Hesse said, adding that it was essential Germany’s largest airport continued to operate.

Airports around Europe have been shut as passenger volumes collapse and governments introduce travel restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus, most recently in Germany’s southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, where Stuttgart and Karlsruhe airports were closed.

“Frankfurt Airport must and will stay open,” Hesse’s Transport Minister Tarek Al-Wazir said on Monday, since it was one of very few airports in Germany that was able to handle infected arrivals.

Given the enormous disruption the air transport industry was facing, it was likely many flights, including repatriation flights, would be forced to arrive at night, he said, which meant that 24-hour operation would be necessary.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Riham Alkousaa

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