Air France and KLM to require face masks for passengers, KLM resumes some Europe routes

May 5, 2020

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Air France and KLM are set to enforce a new policy that requires all passengers to wear face masks throughout their journey to slow the spread of the coronavirus. For Air France, crew will also be required to wear face masks.

As of 11 May 2020, all passengers with Air France and KLM will be required to wear a facemask. The move to require face masks for passengers follows the French government’s instruction that everyone is required to wear face masks on public transport, as well as Dutch guidelines.

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For both carriers, prior to a passenger’s flight, they’ll be notified of the face mask requirement to ensure they have one when they show up at the airport for their flight. KLM says that the face mask requirement will be in effect for all passengers until 31 August 2020.

In addition to requiring passengers and crew to wear face masks, Air France is also implementing other measures to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. It’s installing physical distancing guidelines in the airport, as well as plexiglass protection, daily aircraft cleaning and adapting inflight service.

Related: 7 ways coronavirus could forever change the way we travel

Interestingly, Air France isn’t mandating an empty middle seat policy. In the near-term, the airline says that while load factors are low, it’s helping to separate passengers. However, when passenger traffic numbers pick up and in cases when physical distancing isn’t available on board, “requiring all passengers and crew to wear masks ensures adequate health protection”, the airline said.

Related: EasyJet to leave middle seats empty once flights resume

On domestic and short-haul flights, Air France has suspended meal and beverage services completely. For long-haul flights, cabin service is limited and most meals will be those that are individually wrapped.

As part of KLM’s announcement of the new requirement for passengers, it’s also unveiled its plan to gradually resume some European routes. Beginning Monday, 4 May, the airline resumed operations to seven additional destinations, which were suspended as a result of coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

As of Monday, the airline resumed daily flights from its Amsterdam hub to the following destinations: Barcelona (BCN), Madrid (MAD), Rome (FCO), Milan (MXP), Budapest (BUD), Prague (PRG), Warsaw (WAW) and Helsinki (HEL). Each of the reopened routes are operated by the carrier’s regional Embraer aircraft.

The airline is saying that the reopening of routes will be gradual and could “change weekly, depending on measures being taken by the authorities at the destinations”. KLM still operates to London Heathrow (LHR), Edinburgh (EDI), Aberdeen (ABZ), Manchester (MAN) and Birmingham (BHX), though the U.K.’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office still advises U.K. nationals against all non-essential travel.

By the end of May, KLM expects to resume 15% of its flights compared to the period before the coronavirus outbreak. Most of those will likely be short-haul regional connections, as the carrier continues to operate most long-haul flights on a cargo-only basis.

The resumption of services is in line with the CEO of the Air France-KLM Group’s prediction. In April, Group CEO Ben Smith said that he expects 20% of capacity to be restored in June, followed by 40% in July, 60% in August and 75% by the fourth quarter.

However, while service is slowly restored now, Smith doesn’t expect air travel to reach its pre-coronavirus levels until 2022.

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