As air traffic recovery has not only stalled but even regressed over the past few weeks, KLM announced Thursday that it would need to cut a further 800 to 1,000 jobs. This brings the total of jobs lost at the Dutch flag-carrier since the start of the crisis close to 6,000. Meanwhile, the airline said it was yet to see the impact of the latest round of restrictions.
New restrictions not yet taken into account
The new round of layoffs will bring the total of cuts equal to a fifth of KLM’s pre-COVID staff. The new numbers include 500 flight attendants, 100 cockpit crew, and 200 to 400 ground staff. However, the airline has not yet calculated the effect of the latest round of the Dutch government’s restrictions. The impact of these, KLM says, will “become evident in due course.”
“The further downsizing of our organisation does not yet encompass the latest measures announced by the Dutch government in the past 48 hours. These new measures are, however, in line with the restrictions and dynamics we have had to contend with since the start of the pandemic. Even if our crewmembers are exempt from the new regulations, the further loss of jobs will regrettably be inevitable,” said Pieter Elbers, KLM’s CEO, in a statement seen by Simple Flying.
The 5,000 positions that were cut already in 2020 were based on a scenario where air traffic would have begun to recover in 2021. However, this is, as we are aware, still far from the case. Previously existing as well as new international measures and travel restrictions are delaying in particular long-haul demand for much longer than the industry had hoped.
With negotiations for another round of government aid for Air France-KLM reportedly at a standstill, at the moment it is anyone’s guess how many more jobs may yet need to go before the crisis is over.
Stricter and stricter testing requirements
The Dutch government decided this week to require all boarding a plane to the Netherlands – including airline crew – to take both a negative PCR test and a negative rapid antigen test.
This prompted KLM to cancel all its intercontinental flights, along with European flights requiring crew to stay overnight, effective Friday. The reason, it said, was to prevent crew from becoming stranded abroad following a potential positive test result prior to departure.
KLM had already been hit hard when testing requirements were introduced not only for those with the Netherlands as their final destination but also for those merely transiting via Schiphol. And while cargo has become a small lifeline for many commercial airlines during COVID, it can now no longer carry supplies from Asia to South America via Amsterdam.
Unfortunately, this also means that COVID-19 vaccines destined for countries that have purchased the variants produced by Russia, India, and China will have to find other means of transportation.
Curfew effective tomorrow
The new restrictions are part of a new hardline stance from the Dutch government to curb the spread of the B117 mutation of coronavirus, commonly referred to as “the UK variant.” Already in lockdown, the country is now bringing in a curfew from 21:00 to 04:30.
This will last until at least February 9th. Those caught violating the curfew will be fined €95 ($115). Anyone found to have forged an employer’s declaration to be out and about between the designated curfew hours will pay a heavier fine and get a criminal record.
What do you think of the Dutch government’s testing regime? Is it reasonable or too much to ask?