KLM scrapping flights over Covid absenteeism; Rotterdam metro limited
Airline KLM will "proactively" cancel flights between 7 February and 13 March due to high absenteeism among staff caused by coronavirus infections and quarantine obligations. Fewer metro trains will run in the Rotterdam region from Monday. Carrier RET is switching to an adjusted timetable due to increasing Covid-19 infections among its metro drivers.
By flying less often, KLM hopes to relieve pressure on the flight personnel who can come to work. "We understand, of course, that passengers can suffer from this exceptional situation, and we find it very annoying," said a KLM spokesperson. The VNC union for cabin crew noted on its site that "absenteeism due to illness is at a record high."
KLM cannot yet say how many flights will ultimately be canceled. It is also unknown which destination the airline will fly less. That has yet to be worked out.
According to a spokesperson for the RET, the total coronavirus absence among metro staff is high. The busses and trams will continue to run according to the regular timetable. It is difficult to say how long the adjusted schedule will apply, said the spokesperson. "We continue to monitor the situation. If the infections decrease, it will take a week to arrange everything back to the normal timetable."
The metros will run less frequently on all lines on weekdays during the day and on Saturdays. For example, the metro runs every 5 minutes between Rotterdam Central and Slinge or between Schiedam Central and Capelse Brug, instead of every 3 to 4 minutes. There is also more time between the metros on other routes. Between Slinge and Pijnacker Zuid, The RET will maintain the peak hours.
Absenteeism due to coronavirus infections or quarantine is an increasing problem for employers. Supermarkets warned this week that holes in the shifts are getting so big that shelves may start to empty. The industry, therefore, wants even more relaxed quarantine rules for people in crucial professions, such as supermarket employees.
The government has already relaxed the quarantine rules. Since last week, people who have been fully vaccinated and had their booster shot at least a week ago do not have to quarantine after contact with an infected person, provided that they do not have any coronavirus symptoms themselves. The same applies to people who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past eight weeks. In this way, the Cabinet hopes to relieve the absenteeism pressure on some sectors. Soon there will also be new advice on quarantine rules in certain crucial professions.