KLM suspends its long-haul flights, faced with the strengthening of health controls

Posted on Jan 21, 2021 at 10:02 am

Another blow for Air France-KLM. While KLM has so far succeeded in maintaining a higher activity level at the European average, the Dutch company is forced to cancel all its long-haul flights as of this Friday. At issue: the strengthening of health controls desired by the Dutch government, which will require all travelers, as well as crew members, to present a second negative screening test carried out just before departure, in addition to a test PCR negative performed up to 72 hours before. A measure deemed inapplicable as it stands by KLM, which has therefore decided to preventively suspend the 270 long-haul weekly flights scheduled from Friday.

Debate in Parliament

This measure proposed by the government against a backdrop of growing controversy over the management of the epidemic in the Netherlands, must still be debated and voted on this Thursday in parliament. But in all likelihood, the strengthening of controls for international passengers should be ratified by parliamentarians. KLM and the flight crew unions hope, however, to obtain accommodations, or even an exemption from the second test for flight crews, as is already the case for quarantine measures.

New quarantine

For KLM as for the other companies operating long-haul flights from Schiphol, the risk is indeed to end up with incomplete crews at the last minute and personnel stuck in quarantine abroad. But other measures will also force KLM and the other companies to cut into their programs. In addition to stepping up testing, the Dutch government has also decided to suspend air links with the United Kingdom, South Africa and South America, in order to prevent the spread of new covid-19 mutations. The Dutch government has also proposed to institute ten days of isolation for all travelers arriving at Schiphol, which would have a devastating effect on what remains of air traffic.

Tension on recapitalization

This additional sledgehammer comes as discussions between the French and Dutch authorities regarding the necessary recapitalisation d’Air France-KLM hardly seem to be progressing. According to the business daily “Het Financieele Dagblad”, the Dutch government only wants to release additional funds for KLM and not for the Air France-KLM group. In addition to the conversion of French and Dutch public loans granted to Air France and KLM respectively, the recapitalization project provides for a capital injection at the level of the parent company, in order to consolidate its equity and enable it to finance its purchases. of planes. But the Dutch government has already publicly committed that the Dutch taxpayer’s money will go exclusively to KLM.

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