QCOSTARICA – KLM, the Dutch airline, decided to suspend all its long-haul international flights starting this Friday, including those to and from Costa Rica.
This measure responds to the new covid-19 prevention regulations announced on Wednesday by the Dutch government.
“We take this news with due respect for the sovereignty of the countries, for the freedom that companies have to take care of their own finances,” said Costa Rica’s Minister of Tourism, Gustavo Segura, confirming the decision of the airline.
From the Dutch government website: No travel to the Netherlands if test result is positive. If a passenger cannot present a negative test result and declaration before departure, they may not travel to the Netherlands and will not be permitted to board the aircraft or ship. On arrival in the Netherlands, safety region officials will check that passengers have a negative test result.
The Minister said that this is not good news for Costa Rica as a tourist destination or for any of the destinations to which KLM currently flies.
However, he said that the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) – Tourism Board – understands that, in times of pandemic, “these are decisions that companies make.”
“We remain hopeful for the future, trying to recover as many air routes as possible within this reality that imposes obstacles every day, which we must overcome together as a united tourism industry,” Segura added.
The airline will suspend a total of 270 long-haul international flights and all routes to European destinations where crew members have to spend the night.
According to the ICT, the new health restrictions of the Dutch government include the requirement that passengers and crew show results of a second rapid test for covid-19 with a negative result just before the departure of the flight.
In a conversation with the ICT, the company stated that it cannot run the risk of its crew being stranded somewhere due to the measures imposed by its government.
The ICT indicated that it is not yet aware of other European-flag airlines that will choose the same path of suspending flights due to the consequences of the pandemic.
On Thursday, KLM announced that it will lay off between 800 and 1,000 additional workers due to the crisis caused by the new coronavirus.
The company, which is part of the Air France-KLM group, had already announced 5,000 layoffs in July 2020.
“The reality is that the recovery is taking longer than we expected, especially for long distances, in part due to the international restrictions in force,” the airline informed Agence France-Presse (AFP).
KLM President Pieter Elbers explained that recent restrictions announced by the Netherlands, including bans on flights from the UK, South Africa and South America, “have added” problems for the airline.
According to AFP, the Dutch government provided 3.4 billion euros (about US$4 billion dollas) of aid to KLM last year.
The pilots also accepted a five-year pay cut last November, as part of the conditions for receiving the aid.
KLM had announced the reactivation of its operations in the country on October 27, 2020, with a stopover at the Juan Santamaría (SJO) airport, in San Jose, and with a final destination at the Daniel Oduber (LIR), in Liberia, Guanacaste.