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Dutch Airline Cutting Service and Blocking Off a Toilet On China Flights in Response to Worsening COVID Situation

Dutch Airline Cutting Service and Blocking Off a Toilet On China Flights in Response to Worsening COVID Situation

The Dutch flag carrier KLM is to give flight attendants working on services from China access to hospital-grade face masks and splash-resistant goggles. The decision followed direct requests from flight attendants who felt uneasy working on flights in the region due to the worsening COVID-19 outbreak in China.

A spokesperson for the Amsterdam-based airline also confirmed that it would cut back onboard services on flights from China and that at least one onboard lavatory would be blocked off and reserved solely for crew use.

The decision echoes the initial response that KLM and other airlines took to dealing with the emergence of COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic in early 2020. It’s understood that these additional pandemic measures are only being implemented on flights from China.

Confirming the decision, a spokesperson said the airline already had strict health protocols on flights to China due to local regulations and that additional protections were being provided on return flights because “colleagues have expressed their desire to work in this way.”

“We are following with interest the consultations in Brussels today where European member states are discussing entry requirements,” a statement from the airline continued.

Europe’s top health officials are discussing a bloc-wide approach to arrivals from China and are widely expected to recommend mandatory pre-departure testing rules. Several countries, including Italy, Spain and France, have already unilaterally introduced additional pandemic regulations for arrivals from China.

KLM said it was also in “close contact” with the Dutch Ministry of Health over the situation in China. The airline does not currently fly direct to China but serves Shanghai and Hangzhou with a ‘shuttle’ service from Soul, South Korea.

The airline also serves Hong Kong with a shuttle service from Bangkok, Thailand. KLM stopped flying direct to mainland China and Hong Kong due to the high risk of aircrew being detained indefinitely in government-run quarantine facilities.

A growing number of countries have reintroduced pandemic-era travel restrictions due to concern about a lack of reliable data coming out of China. On Wednesday, director general of the International Air Transport Association, Willie Walsh, blasted governments for their “knee-jerk” reinstatement of pandemic border measures.

Walsh demanded countries immediately lift “ineffective measures that cut off international connectivity”. He did not comment on the fact that until the end of last month, China had isolated itself from the rest of the world and still requires pre-departure tests for passengers travelling to the country.

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