KLM Airlines, the Dutch subsidiary of Air France KLM, has made it mandatory for all passengers to wear masks starting May 11 and the measure will be applicable until August 31, 2020. The Royal Dutch Airlines said in a statement that passengers must ensure that they carry the required facial protection with them and those not wearing adequate facial protection may be refused boarding at the gate.
“Facial protection refers to non-medical face masks and to surgical face masks. The mask has to be large enough to cover the wearer's entire nose and mouth,” said the airlines.
The company said that children under 10 years of age have been excluded from the measure which has been taken for safely carrying out fights’ operation for passengers and crew. It added that passengers from high-risk areas will have to fill in a health declaration to assess whether they are fit to fly.
“The passengers all sit with their faces in the same direction, so there is little face-to-face interaction, and the seats form a barrier to the transmission forward or backward in the cabin,” said KLM.
While the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has come out in favour of passengers wearing masks onboard, it expressed reservations against leaving 'middle seats' empty as part of the social distancing measures. The association said that it does not recommend airlines to leave 'middle seats' claiming that evidence suggests that the risk of transmission onboard aircraft is low.
In March, Air France-KLM Group had decided to cut down its capacity by 70-90 per cent due to a sharp decline in traffic and sales in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. The airline company said in a statement that the reduction in capacity will lead to the grounding of biggest jets including entire Airbus 380 and Boeing 747 fleet.
The company had said that it has already taken exceptional measures to secure its cash flow which includes identifying additional saving measures which will generate 200 million euros in 2020. The Group added that Air France and KLM will be consulting with their elected employee representatives on measures to take into account the impact of the expected decline in the activity.