- KLM is the latest airline to make face masks optional onboard flights into the Netherlands.
- That also applies to passengers from South Africa.
- But South Africa still requires face masks to be worn on public transport, including airlines, and at airports.
- So, passengers travelling to South Africa will still need to mask up for the duration of their flight.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Dutch airline KLM is the latest to drop its face mask mandate, allowing passengers from South Africa and other parts of the world the option to mask up when flying to the Netherlands. The same isn't true for return flights, though.
Some international airlines have recently revised their face mask policies in light of governments' easing of Covid-19 regulations.
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic were two of the first airlines to drop their mandates after the United Kingdom scrapped all traveller restrictions and face masks were made optional at Heathrow Airport. Major American carriers, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, followed suit in April.
More recently, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) announced that face mask mandates would be eased for passengers travelling between most – but not all – member states.
KLM recently announced that, from Saturday, 21 May, the use of face masks would no longer be mandatory onboard aircraft flying to the Netherlands and at Dutch airports. This also applies to South African travellers, who are permitted to enter the Netherlands, without quarantine or testing, if they've been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
But the wearing of face masks on public transport – including airlines – in South Africa remains mandatory and, as such, complicates the issue for airlines flying to and from the country.
Generally, airlines' new optional approach only applies if the destination country has no mandate. For this reason, masks are still required throughout the flight when flying to, but not necessarily, from South Africa.
This is the same rule enforced by KLM. Travellers from South Africa won't be forced to wear a face mask when flying to the Netherlands, but will still be required to cover up for the duration of the flight back home.
Travellers entering and exiting South Africa are also still required to wear a face mask in airport terminals. Business Insider SA previously reported that airlines without mask mandates generally issue a cabin announcement, sometime after take-off, informing passengers that they may remove their face masks.