KLM Royal Dutch Airlines said a new testing rule by the Dutch government could cause crew members to be quarantined overseas, prompting it to scrap long-haul operations.
Earlier this week, the Netherlands announced a requirement for travellers to undergo rapid Covid-19 testing within four hours of departure for the country. To the carrier’s dismay, pilots and flight attendants are not exempt, reported Reuters
The new measure follows a PCR test requirement introduced on December 29, according to KLM’s website.
To ensure flight crew are not stranded overseas in the event of testing positive, KLM plans to cancel all of its 270 weekly long-haul flights. Services to a handful of European destinations, where crew are required to layover, will also be affected, reported Simple Flying.
In response to Business Traveller, a KLM spokesperson pointed to a joint statement from carriers including Corendon, Easyjet, KLM, Transavia, TUI and BARIN, supported by IATA:
“[The mandatory rapid test] makes the Netherlands the only country in the world where such far-reaching measures will come into effect. This puts the Netherlands’ ties with the rest of the world, the Dutch trade position, and employment in the Dutch aviation sector in direct danger.
“The Dutch airlines expressly state that these measures are impracticable and will lead to the isolation of the Netherlands and ensure that passenger flights — including repatriation and cargo flights, including the transport of Covid-19 vaccines – can no longer be performed.
“The Dutch aviation sector advocates harmonisation of international regulations and a risk-based package of measures, including the safeguarding of aircraft crew testing.”
The spokesperson added that KLM is “investigating the impact of the measures” on its network and more details will be announced shortly. This story will be updated with more details once known.