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KLM to cut 1,000 more jobs, says mandatory COVID-19 testing will ground planes

FILE PHOTO: Cool boxes are seen at the Schiphol Airport as Air France-KLM prepares for a massive logistical operation carrying new vaccines and vaccine candidates for COVID-19 through Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, Netherlands November 25, 2020. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw/File Photo

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - KLM said it would cut an additional 1,000 jobs in 2021 and warned on Thursday that government plans to require all passengers and crew to pass a COVID-19 test before flying to the Netherlands would ground its long-haul flights.

KLM, which already cut 5,000 jobs last year, joined other airlines operating in the Netherlands to criticise a proposed requirement for all inbound passengers to show a negative result from a “fast” COVID-19 test taken within four hours of boarding a plane.

“The Netherlands would be the only country in the world to adopt such far-reaching measures,” the companies said in a statement.

KLM said that the new rule, proposed by the Dutch government on Wednesday, would force it to halt all 270 of its current long-haul flights from Friday, due to the risk of continually having crew members grounded and quarantined in foreign countries.

The company’s decision means it would also have to stop operating freight-only flights from Asia, which has been one of its few business lines to grow during the coronavirus crisis, offsetting revenue losses of roughly two-thirds overall.

Thursday’s statement asking the government to reconsider was published by KLM and signed by easyJet, Corendon, Transavia, TUI and Barin and said it had “support” from the International Aviation and Transport Association (IATA).

The rule threatens the Netherlands “being connected with the rest of the world, the Dutch trading position and employment in the aviation sector,” the companies said.

Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by David Goodman and Elaine Hardcastle

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