KLM and Air France have announced that the wearing of face masks will be mandatory on all flights from May 11. The news comes as KLM begins to gradually restore its suspended European flights with daily services to eight destinations, including Barcelona, Madrid, Rome and Milan.
The new measures require passengers, crew and ground staff to wear face masks while boarding aircraft and throughout flights, with passengers responsible for providing their own. It is so far unclear whether passengers will be denied access to flights if they fail to wear a mask, or indeed what is deemed a sufficient facial covering. The new policies are set to be in place throughout the summer until at least August 31.
Air France has also announced a raft of other safety measures, including the installation of Plexiglas protection screens at airports, where possible, and increased cleaning of aircraft. On short-haul flights in Europe, meal services have been suspended, while on long-haul flights food will be individually wrapped.
What are other European airline policies on face masks?
Wizz Air resumed flights on May 1 with services from London Luton to selected European cities. It is insisting all passengers wear face coverings, with masks distributed free for those who don’t bring one. Extra safety measures include all cabin crew wearing masks and gloves, as well as sanitising wipes being distributed to each passenger.
Meanwhile, Aer Lingus has come under fire after pictures emerged of a packed flight from Belfast to London yesterday. Passengers suggested no extra safety measures were taken with the vast majority of people appearing not to wear masks. In a subsequent statement, the airline said: “The safety and security of Aer Lingus customers and crew is our top priority and any process changes that are identified as being required will be implemented as a matter of urgency.”
British Airways has yet to announce its position on face masks, although it has enhanced aircraft cleaning operations.
What about further afield?
In the US, although more than 90 per cent of international flights have been cancelled, domestic services are starting to resume services and many major carriers such as Delta, American Airlines and United have declared that passengers and crew are required to wear masks or other other face coverings, with United providing masks for free.
Qantas, Australia’s national carrier, have taken a different approach, perhaps due to the relatively low cases of Coronavirus in the country. Currently passengers are not required to wear masks, although social distancing is being practiced wherever possible.