KLM stops UK flights as Britain battles more ‘deadly’ COVID-19 strain

Suban Abdulla
·3 min read
A Boeing 737-7K2(WL) with registration PH-BGE from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has taken off from runway 36L at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.  The airport code for Schiphol is AMS.
KLM has said that it is “closely monitoring the situation” and “further developments” on both its EU and international network, “may come into place in the following days". Photo: Getty

Dutch flag carrier KLM (AF.PA) has halted all flights between the UK and the Netherlands for five days after prime minister Boris Johnson disclosed the increased deadliness of the UK coronavirus mutation.

The PM made the announcement during a press conference on Friday, saying that the “Kent” COVID-19 variant is “30% more deadly.”

Shortly after, the airline announced on Twitter (TWTR) that it will cancel all flights between the country and Britain from Saturday 23 January to Wednesday 27 January.

A company statement on Friday evening said: "Following the announcement from the Dutch government of further travel restrictions for passengers arriving into the Netherlands from the UK, KLM has had to make the difficult decision to adapt our flight schedule to ensure all requirements are adhered to.

"As a result of this, all KLM flights between the UK and The Netherlands from 23 January to 27 January inclusive have been cancelled."

The airline added that it is “closely monitoring the situation” and “further developments” on both its EU and international network “may come into place in the following days.”

It comes as Madrid's health department on Friday said that the UK variant accounts for 9% of detected cases in the region. It will account for half of all cases in Spain by mid-March, said Fernando Simón, director of the Spanish health ministry.

On Thursday, Portugal’s prime minister Antonio Costa announced that all flights to and from the UK would be suspended from Saturday as the country also tackles rising cases of the more transmissible strain.

Costa told a news conference that only repatriation flights would be allowed between both countries to reduce the “risk of contagion.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Britain ramps up flight ban as Portugal suspends all UK travel

The fast-spreading variant of the COVID-19 virus — which was first made public on 14 December — has seen many countries place curbs on travel from the UK in Europe and beyond. Global nations that have banned UK travel include Turkey, India, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Argentina, Jamaica, Morocco, Chile, and Colombia.

It has also prompted the UK government to impose a national lockdown at the start of this year, which will last till at least mid-February.

But, there is a growing chance of lockdowns persisting into the summer, with Johnson refusing to rule out the nationwide lockdown lasting into the summer on Thursday. Meanwhile, home secretary Priti Patel said that it was “far too early” to speculate, when asked if people could book foreign holidays this summer.

Ramping up efforts to slow its spread, the government announced on Friday that it will add more countries to its flight ban list.

Transport secretary announced on Twitter that Britain will ban all arrivals from Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo, from Friday. All passengers from these countries except British and Irish Nationals and third country nationals with resident rights will be denied entry,” he said.

The government will discuss placing further restrictions on travel on Monday, the BBC reported, adding that people arriving in the country could be required to quarantine in hotels.

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