KLM stops all long-haul flights effective Friday

a group of blue airplanes on a runway

KLM will suspend all intercontinental flights and some European traffic from Friday, January 22, 2021. This is due to the government’s requirement that every passenger to the Netherlands, including the crew, must undergo a COVID rapid test before flying.

KLM wants prevent that crews are stranded abroad

The impact of the measures announced today by the Dutch Cabinet is much greater than expected. In addition to a ban on flights to and from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Latin America, the cabinet announced that anyone flying to the Netherlands will have to present a negative rapid test taken shortly before the flight, in addition to the so-called PCR test.


According to a KLM press spokesperson, this drastic measure is being introduced to prevent crews from being stuck in other countries because they test positive for COVID-19 on the rapid test. All long-haul flights will thus be suspended, as well as flights to European destinations where crews will remain on site overnight. This measure also affects return flights and cargo flights, as these are also not exempt from the new regulation.

Huge impact on COVID-vaccine distribution

The fact that KLM is suspending a large number of its flights also has drastic consequences for the global distribution of Corona vaccines. This is reported by the Dutch news media Parool. Schiphol is one of the main distribution points and KLM is one of the main carriers of vaccines from various manufacturers.

The blockage to Central and South America is a particular problem. Many vaccines of Russian, Indian and Chinese manufacture are transported via Schiphol to countries such as Chile, Colombia, Suriname, Brazil and Argentina. This also applies to the distribution of vaccines to South Africa and neighboring countries. This transport takes place almost exclusively in the cargo hold of KLM passenger aircraft. During the first grounding, when flights to and from China were banned, among other things, KLM continued to fly empty passenger planes to transport cargo. Under these new rules, which are to be finalized on Thursday, this is no longer possible.

Images: (c) KLM