KLM to keep operating long-haul flights

Dutch airline KLM will keep operating long haul flights, including for vaccine distribution, after agreeing with the government on softer demands for returning air crews to carry out rapid COVID-19 tests. The Dutch arm of Air France-KLM said earlier in the week it would cancel all its 270 weekly long-haul flights to the Netherlands as a result of new COVID-19 rules, requiring passengers and crew to show evidence of a negative rapid coronavirus test taken just before departure. KLM at the time said this would make it impossible to keep flying to countries with a high risk of coronavirus infections, as it would risk having to leave crew behind, Reuters reported.

The airline and the Dutch health authority RIVM developed an alternative protocol for crews leaving airports outside the government’s list of safe countries. It includes an option for rapid antigen testing for crew on departure and arrival at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, according to Bloomberg.

KLM has also implemented the flight ban from the United Kingdom, South Africa and South America to the Netherlands as of 23 January. Cargo flights are excepted in the government measures.

For passengers travelling to Amsterdam from high-risk areas antigen tests are required by the Dutch government, in addition to the already existing PCR test requirement.

“Our concern is to keep the virus out as much as possible,” the Dutch Minister of Transport Cora van Nieuwenhuizen said in a TV interview with Buitenhof yesterday. “If there is an alternative to it, and the RIVM says it’s just as safe, then I don’t care, and they’ve found a solution, he added,” as reported by Independent.

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