KLM suspends long-haul flights as Netherlands requires rapid test before entry
Wednesday, 20 January 2021
The Dutch airline KLM will suspend all its intercontinental flights and some European routes from Friday now that the Netherlands requires a rapid coronavirus test before entry.
On Wednesday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced additional measures in the fight against the coronavirus, including a temporary ban on flights to the United Kingdom, South Africa and South American countries, pending a new quarantine law.
Travellers must also undergo a rapid test before travelling to the Netherlands, followed by a standard PCR test on arrival, which Rutte called “a double lock on the door.”
However, KLM sees many problems with this mandatory rapid test policy, stating that it is now impossible to operate intercontinental flights. All the more so as staff must also be tested in this way.
“We cannot run the risk of our staff being stranded somewhere. This is why we are stopping all intercontinental flights from Friday and all flights to European destinations where crew members have to spend the night,” the company said.
This also applies to cargo flights and repatriation flights, according to the airline.
The new measures announced by the care-taker government of Prime Minister Rutte do not come as a surprise. Some weeks ago, the Netherlands decided to require a negative corona test at most 72 hours before arrival to the country. Even passengers on planes making a stop at a Dutch airport, without having to disembark the planes and wait in a terminal, were required to do the test.
Asked by The Brussels Times if such a requirement was in line with the European Commission’s guidelines on travel restrictions, a Commission spokesperson replied that it was not aware of the specific measure and therefore could not comment on it. The spokesperson said that the question should be addresed to the Dutch authorities. However, they declined to respond.