GGD, KLM, Schiphol apologize for treatment of travelers from South Africa
Airport Schiphol, airline KLM, and health service GGD Kennemerland apologized for how they handled the people on two flights from South Africa to the Amsterdam airport on Friday, NRC and NH Nieuws report. Several passengers complained about the chaos surrounding them when they had to get tested for Covid-19 upon arrival. They demanded an apology and compensation.
The over 600 passengers were on two flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town to Schiphol. While they were in the air, the Netherlands banned flights from southern Africa due to a new coronavirus variant identified by the South African health authorities. As a result, the passengers were stuck on the planes for hours after landing while they got tested. They were then isolated in crowded rooms with no fresh air while awaiting their test results. And it took hours before they got anything to eat or drink.
KLM said it is "very disappointed" that customers were left in the dark for a long time "partly due to external circumstances." The airline also regrets that its customers "had to stay on board for so many hours and were then treated in this non-customer-friendly way."
GGD Kennemerland, responsible for testing the travelers, acknowledged that this process did not go smoothly. "In the end, everything did not go as smoothly and quickly as we would have liked." The health service understands why the travelers are dissatisfied. "This has to be done better, and that is why it is important to sit down with all those involved and learn from this."
Sixty-one travelers eventually tested positive for Covid-19, including 14 who had the new Omicron variant. They were taken to a hotel to quarantine. On Tuesday, public health institute RIVM said that the Omicron variant had been circulating in the Netherlands for over a week by then.