Dutch airline KLM will keep operating long-haul flights, including for vaccine distribution, after agreeing with the Dutch government on softer demands for returning air crews to carry out rapid COVID-19 tests.
The Dutch arm of Air France-KLM said last week that it would cancel all of 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.
At the time, KLM said that 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.
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It warned that this would also hurt vaccine distribution as cargo flights would also be cancelled.
But KLM has since said that it has reached a compromise in which flight crew on high coronavirus risk flights will take a rapid antigen test before departure from the Netherlands and after their return.
Crew will also have to follow strict quarantine rules during their stay abroad, the health ministry said.
Last week, The Netherlands decided to ban all passenger flights from Great Britain, South Africa and South America for up to a month, in a bid to limit the spread of new coronavirus mutations.
Passengers travelling to Amsterdam from other high-risk countries are still required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 rapid test taken just before departure, in addition to a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel.
KLM has also that said it will cut an additional 1,000 jobs in 2021. The airline cut 5,000 jobs last year.