Despite the fact that a national mask mandate for airports and airlines remains in effect, four Dutch airlines plan to defy government legislation by establishing their aircraft face mask-free zones.
Except in airports and on flights, the Dutch government will no longer compel passengers to wear a face mask on all modes of public transportation starting next Wednesday. A restriction prohibiting people from wearing face masks in shops, restaurants, and other public places was recently repealed.
The airlines say the targeting of aviation is unfair and unjustifiable, and as of March 23, when the broader public transit mandate is withdrawn, they will no longer enforce the restrictions.
“We find it disappointing that the use of face masks during boarding and during the entire flight is still being considered by the Dutch government, while this has been abandoned everywhere in the Netherlands,” a spokesperson for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines said.
Transavia, Corendon, and TUI Airways’ Dutch subsidiary are all part of the national flag carrier.
“The sector finds this approach inappropriate, given the phase the pandemic is in,” the KLM spokesperson continued.
“It is also at odds with European and international developments that we monitor closely. Because the explainability and proportionality continue to decline, we see an increase in misunderstanding among our passengers.”
TUI Airways’ British division, along with Jet2, has just lifted the face mask requirement. This was made feasible by the British government’s decision to lift the public’s restriction on wearing face masks.
British Airways had planned to remove masks from most flights on Wednesday, but the airline changed its mind at the last minute, afraid that authorities might prohibit BA planes from entering their nations. There has been no similar action taken against Jet2 or TUI Airways.
On flights to the United States and India, KLM and the other three Dutch airlines will continue to enforce face mask requirements as necessary, but would not actively police the ban on most other flights.
Most modern airplanes are equipped with hospital-grade HEPA filters that clean the air within the passenger cabin every 10 to 15 minutes while in flight, according to the airlines.