No Cannes do! French police turn away would-be holidaymakers fleeing London lockdown in private jet

10 Apr, 2020 11:01 / Updated 4 years ago

A group of 10 would-be holidaymakers who rented a private jet to flee London for the sunny shores of the Cote-d'Azur in France were turned back by furious border police at Marseille-Provence airport.

The group of Croatian, German, French, Romanian, and Ukrainian nationals had planned to spend a few days on the French Riviera despite the fact that the country has been in lockdown since March 17. Their flight arrived last Saturday but the incident was only publicized by French police Thursday.

The group of seven men, aged between 24 and 50, and three women, aged between 24 and 27, were reportedly led by a Croatian national who works in finance and real estate, and who not only rented a private jet to flee London, but also booked a luxury villa in Cannes which the jetsetters would reach via helicopter.  

“They were coming for a holiday in Cannes and three helicopters were waiting for them on the tarmac,” the head of the border police service of Marignane told local media.

“But we notified them that they were not allowed to enter the national territory and they left four hours later.”

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Given the sweeping travel restrictions imposed across the globe, anyone that does arrive at a French airport is subject to increased scrutiny, so the plan was doomed to failure from the outset. 

Furthermore, since April 6, an international travel certificate is required that establishes the journey as being essential. Exemptions are made for: People who have their primary residence in France, people travelling through France to get home, healthcare workers involved in the fight against coronavirus, hauliers, diplomats, and cross-border workers. 

Trips by people visiting their second homes, or any rented holiday homes, are not included on the list. 

The coronavirus castaways were not allowed to disembark and while the would-be jet setters ‘made some calls’ to try and pull some strings, their helicopters arrived, only to be waved off by police. 

The travellers were eventually told to leave but were not fined as technically they did not, in fact, enter French territory. Nine of the group flew back to London while the remaining member hired another private jet to Germany.

French police are stepping up border checks and roadblocks over the Easter weekend lest anyone else be tempted to make a quick getaway from their country’s lockdown.

As of Friday morning, France has 118,785 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection, and a death toll of 12,228.

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