Economy

KLM continues to fly long distances: personnel are exempt from stricter corona rules

Pilots and stewards of airlines flying to the Netherlands no longer need to have a negative rapid test of a maximum of 4 hours old to be allowed on board. Instead, the OMT considers a test taken no more than 12 hours before departure to be sufficient, provided that the flight is returned within 72 hours.

Return within 72 hours

If the return flight is later than 72 hours after the outward flight, a new test must be performed. If that is not possible at the place of destination, then a test must be carried out upon return to the Netherlands.

In this way, the crew cannot ‘within reason’ infect anyone else, according to the OMT’s advice. This has just been sent to the Lower House by Ministers Cora van Nieuwenhuizen and Hugo de Jonge. There is no risk of personnel being infected by passengers, because they are obliged to take a rapid test just before departure, according to the OMT.

Flying back separately

In addition, crew members abroad must stay in their hotel room as much as possible and in the ‘bubble’ of the crew. Furthermore, the OMT advises that if someone on the crew does have symptoms of illness, he or she should fly back in isolation wearing a mouth mask if no test is possible.

The ‘alternative protocol’ is a relief for KLM. Since tonight travelers must who come from countries where, according to the government, there is a high risk of becoming infected, can show as many as two negative tests upon arrival in the Netherlands.

Two negative tests

It’s about a ‘normal’ so-called pcr test and a rapid test of up to 4 hours old upon boarding. In this way, the government hopes to prevent new variants of the corona virus from spreading via travelers in the Netherlands.

KLM personnel must also comply with these rules, but according to the company that is not possible. If a flight attendant or pilot were to test positive, he or she must be left behind. And KLM as an employer does not want to take that risk.

The Hague lobby

In recent days, KLM has lobbied in The Hague to obtain an exception for its own personnel from the strict testing policy. The company did this by, among other things, stating that the supply of vaccinations could be endangered. But it got no appeal.

“Of course, as the minister of aviation, I prefer that they just fly. But it must be safe. That is the only criterion”, Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (Infrastructure and Water Management, VVD) left the door ajar to get a to make an exception.

The company had also not yet stopped all long-haul flights to so-called high-risk countries, which it threatened earlier this week. For example, another flight from New York arrived this morning and for tomorrow there are still flights from Lagos in Nigeria and Nairobi in Kenya on the flight schedule on the Schiphol site.

Flying ban

The stricter government measures that the cabinet announced on Wednesday are causing KLM even more headaches. As of today at one minute after midnight, there is a flight ban on flights from South America, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

The company still flies to these countries, according to the flight schedule on the Schiphol site. The planes then return to the Netherlands empty or with cargo, a spokesman explains.

Cargo flights are indeed exempt from the Dutch flight ban for flights from South America, confirms a spokesman for the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. It may even include certain professions such as seafarers and medical personnel as passengers, she adds.

Layoff round: 1000 jobs away

This new decision may also have additional consequences for staff. KLM announced yesterday that between 800 and 1000 jobs will be lost at the company. That reorganization was already planned.

Due to the additional flight restrictions that the company must adhere to due to the flight ban to the aforementioned countries, additional measures may be necessary, CEO Pieter Elbers already indicated.

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