Starting today, KLM will halt all intercontinental flights and some of its European services.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is set to fall rather quiet at the end of this week as Dutch flag carrier KLM has announced it will bring most of its flying to a halt. The move is part of the government’s requirement that all travelers, including crew, must undertake both a PCR and antigen test before flying. KLM says that the move is necessary to avoid crew being stranded overseas as a result.
The Netherlands announced on 20th January,2020, that it would require all travelers, from all countries, to carry both a negative antigen test result and a negative PCR result before boarding a flight to the country.
For the flag carrier of Netherlands, the deal-breaker is the double testing requirement. This, it says, risks leaving a member of crew stranded in a foreign country, should they test positive before the flight back home. The airline adds that it will be impossible to operate international flights while this requirement is in place.
“We don’t want to run the risk of crews getting stuck in a distant country if they test positive. So from Friday, we will stop all intercontinental flights and all flights to European destinations where crews have to stay overnight.”said the airline in a statement to Het Parool.
The impact on passenger traffic is unlikely to be significant, given the low numbers of people flying and strict travel restrictions in place. For cargo and repatriation flights, it’s a bit more of a concern.
“For this, too, the crew is obliged to undergo testing. We actually flew to orange and red countries for essential travel and cargo. But this is no longer possible. Then the crew would have to be excluded.”added KLM.
The flight suspension will have a significant effect on the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to South American countries. Many of the Russian, Indian and Chinese-produced vaccines are shipped to South America via Schiphol, mostly in the cargo hold of KLM planes.
Without exemptions for airline crew, it will be impossible for KLM to resume its important services. There’s no word on how long the flight shutdown could last.