**Update: 14/12/20 @ 10:50 UTC – Statement provided by KLM. Included below.**
The government of Hong Kong is imposing strict new rules on incoming flights. According to sources, any flight found with even a single COVID-19-positive passenger aboard will have a two-week ban if any other travelers on that same flight fail to comply with pandemic control measures. As a result, KLM has been banned from operating service from Amsterdam and Hong Kong for the two week period from December 4th through December 17th. It should be made clear that the airline is still allowed to operate flights from Hong Kong to Amsterdam.
“Due to stricter new Covid-19 measures, KLM is temporarily not allowed to take passengers to Hong Kong. KLM flies with cargo from Amsterdam to Hong Kong and with passengers and cargo back to Amsterdam. KLM is still discussing the length of the period to which this measure applies.”
KLM banned until December 17th
According to The South China Morning Post, KLM has been banned from flying to Hong Kong since December 4th and will not be able to resume flights until December 17th. The sources note that Hong Kong’s Department of Health said one of the KLM passengers “could not comply with the requirements specified.” The government department failed to elaborate on the specific rule-violation that was committed.
CNN notes that the flight that triggered this ban took place on November 27th.
As is the case with other carriers, KLM is still allowed to operate flights from Hong Kong back to its home airport. This means that the carrier would have to operate the outbound flight without any passengers, thus having to rely much more on cargo revenue.
Via KLM’s website and flight-search-engine, we have confirmed that this is indeed the case, with flights to Hong Kong unavailable for booking (until December 17th) while flights to Amsterdam throughout the next week can still be purchased.
Hong Kong’s new strict rules
The government has stated that it reserves the right to block a route for 14 days under specific conditions. According to CNN, two conditions are as follows:
- If a passenger on board an aircraft carrying COVID-19 fails to comply with pandemic control measures.
- When an airline carries more than five COVID-19-positive passengers.
The South China Morning Post notes the additional condition that could trigger a ban. An airline will be barred for two weeks if any travelers on a flight with a COVID-19-positive passenger fail to comply with Hong Kong’s pandemic control measures.
In the case of KLM’s November 27th flight, it has not been disclosed what the specific infraction was. However, the most common infraction during these times has been a violation of a 14-day-quarantine/self-isolation policy.
Other airlines banned
KLM isn’t the only carrier that has been affected by Hong Kong’s new policies. British Airways has also been barred from flying to the major city after passengers were found to be infected with COVID-19. With the ‘triggering flight’ suspected to have taken place on Tuesday, December 8th, and the policy coming into effect in the days following, this ban will last until December 25th.
“We are disappointed to have been instructed by the Hong Kong authorities to temporarily suspend our passenger flights from London to Hong Kong and are working closely with the authorities to resume these services…We are contacting our customers to apologise and offer the option of flying with another carrier, travelling with us at a later date or accepting a full refund.” -British Airways via CNN
This ban only goes one-way as the airline has noted that its flights from Hong Kong to London “continue to operate as normal.”
Have you been affected by Hong Kong’s new policies? Let us know in the comments.