Travel bans in Netherlands, KLM halts all long-haul flight

Shutterstock /Aerovista Luchtfotografie

As Dutch government imposes stricter COVID-19 rules, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines halts all of its long-haul flights to the Netherlands beginning January 22, 2021.

Tightened restrictions

On January 20, 2021, the Dutch government announced tightened measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 infections. “Do not travel abroad and do not book any trips abroad in the period up to and including 31 March 2021,” read the government’s statement. In addition, the ban on the flights from the United Kingdom and South Africa was extended for one more month.

All arriving passengers must present a negative result of COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before departure, but those from high-risk areas must also have a negative result of a rapid test, taken no more than four hours before the flight. There are no exemptions for flight crew and a flight crew member with an unexpected positive rapid test would have to be quarantined at the destination and not be allowed to go home.

KLM halts long-haul flights

In response to the new measures and the stricter testing policy, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will be halting all of its 270 weekly long-haul flights to the Netherlands from January 22, 2021. 

“Based on this information, we cannot run the risk of stranding our people in a distant country if that test is positive,” said a KLM spokesperson to the Het Parool. “So from Friday we will stop all intercontinental flights and all flights to European destinations where crews have to stay overnight.”

“After all the challenges we faced in 2020, this announcement brings us back to square one,” said a spokesperson for FNV Cabine, the cabin crew union for KLM. “These measures have not been agreed in a European context, but only apply to flights to the Netherlands. That means a serious blow to KLM and its employees.

The Netherlands also announced a ban for passenger flights from the following countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Africa, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. KLM currently serves eight of those countries. 

Complications to vaccine transportation

The new measures might have consequences to the transportation of the COVID-19 vaccine, as Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is one of the crucial distribution hubs in Europe and KLM is one of the key distributors. Many vaccines are transported via Schiphol to countries such as Chile, Colombia, Suriname, Brazil, Panama, and Argentina, as well as South Africa and surrounding countries.

Because of the new measure and fears of cabin crew getting stuck abroad, even the cargo flights become complicated. Without exemptions for airline crew, KLM will have a hard time resuming service.


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