KLM will continue to fly to South Africa, says passengers must comply with rules

Photo: Depositphotos.com
Photo: Depositphotos.com

Dutch flag carrier KLM said on Friday afternoon it will continue to fly between the Netherlands and South Africa, despite the so-called ban on flights imposed by the Netherlands.

The government said on Friday morning that it was banning flights from southern Africa in an effort to keep out a new, potentially more harmful, variant of coronavirus, which South African scientists have identified.

KLM said in a statement that the decision to flag South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe as a very-high-risk area means passengers flying KLM from South Africa to the Netherlands will only be permitted to board if they comply with the entry restrictions imposed by the Dutch government.

The entry ban does not apply for the repatriation of people carrying Dutch passports, EU citizens, Schengen residents, medical emergency staff, ships’ crew, airline staff and people travelling under exceptional circumstances, such as family emergencies, the airline said.

In addition, passengers who are allowed to board will have to have a negative PCR test and go into quarantine on arrival. The 10 day quarantine can be reduced to five days if a negative test is obtained after five days via a regional health board testing centre.

Two flights arrived from South Africa on Friday morning, and passengers were kept at the airport until they had all had a coronavirus test and the results.

One of those stuck at the airport was Stephanie Nolen, the New York Times global health reporter. She said on Twitter that passengers on her flight had been stuck on the plane for several hours and the catering service were not allowed to bring in any water.

Later, the passengers were allowed to leave the planes to wait for their test results, with several taking to social media to complain about the lack of food, water and information.

‘It is a very difficult situation and a unique one,’ a Schiphol spokesman told broadcaster NOS. ‘We are doing all we can with our partners to deal with this in a good and safe way. We would call on everyone to keep their distance from each other.’

The issue of the new coronavirus variant was not discussed at Friday’s press conference.

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