KLM to keep long-haul flights as testing demands for Covid-19 are softened
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By Bart Meijer and Rama Venkat
INTERNATIONAL - DUTCH airline KLM will keep operating long haul flights, including for vaccine distribution, after agreeing with the government on softer demands for returning air crews to carry out rapid Covid-19 tests.
The Dutch arm of Air France-KLM said earlier in the week that it would cancel all 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.
KLM at the time said 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.
It warned that this would also hurt vaccine distribution as cargo flights would also be cancelled. But KLM on Saturday evening said it had reached a compromise in which flight crews would take a rapid antigen test before departure and after their return.
Crews would also have to follow strict quarantine rules abroad, the health ministry said. The Netherlands last week decided to ban all passenger flights from Great Britain, South Africa and South America, for up to a month, to limit the spread of new mutations.
Passengers travelling to Amsterdam are still required to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 rapid test before departure, in addition to a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel.