Dutch stranded abroad by closing borders, canceled flights

A KLM plane at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam (Photo: David.gaya / Wikimedia Commons)A KLM plane at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam (Photo: David.gaya / Wikimedia Commons)

More and more countries are closing their borders due to the Covid-19 outbreak, resulting in more and more airlines canceling flights, leaving a large number of Dutch people stuck abroad. The general association of Dutch travel agencies ANVR thinks about 200 thousand Dutch who booked through a travel agency is stuck outside the Netherlands. KLM says around 250 thousand of its customers are still waiting for a flight back to the Netherlands.

From 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, the Netherlands' borders will be closed to non-EU people who do not absolutely need to be here, NOS reports. The entry ban does not apply to travelers from EU member states and other Schengen countries, or the United Kingdom. People with a vital function, such as healthcare or transport workers, are also exempt from the new rules. The entry ban applies for 30 days. 

KLM Ceo Pieter Elbers promised on television show Op1 that the Dutch airline is doing everything in its power to bring its passengers back to the Netherlands as soon as possible. "But we are bombarded with decisions every day," Elbers said. "Normally we receive about 20 thousand messages via social media and just as many calls. Now it is 200 thousand messages and 200 thousand calls per day."

Elbers called on KLM travelers to only contact the airline if necessary. For example, Dutch people who want to rebook a ticket should wait for the time being. "Because that will also be possible in two weeks."

The KLM CEO expects that air traffic will "come to an almost complete standstill" next week, as more and more measures are taken to curb the coronavirus spread. "We are doing our best, but if the airspace is closed somewhere, we can't fly there anymore."

KLM subsidiary Transavia announced that it is canceling all flights between March 23 nd April 5, except for flights needed to repatriate Dutch people stranded abroad, NU.nl reports. Transavia advises travelers who want to come home, to book a ticket on a flight before March 23. Passengers whose flights have been canceled, will be notified by email

"It is an increasing challenge to continue to operate the flights and return passengers to the Netherlands. However, we see that many Dutch people have followed our advice to postpone their journey," Transavia CEO Marcel de Nooijer said in a statement. "The health and wellbeing of our employees and passengers are always paramount. As soon as the situation changes and the need for travel increases again, we will restart our routes."