‘It was very chaotic’: SAS cancels dozens of flights due to staff illness

A reader spoke to The Local after their Christmas flight was rescheduled twice, as Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) was forced to cancel around 40 departures due to staff sick leave.

'It was very chaotic': SAS cancels dozens of flights due to staff illness
File photo of SAS aircraft at Stockholm's Arlanda Airport. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

SAS cancelled nine flights from Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport on Wednesday, after grounding more than 30 flights on Tuesday, reports the TT newswire.

“We have staff who are ill, have symptoms or someone who is ill in their household, and the recommendation is then that they should stay at home,” SAS spokesperson Freja Annamatz told TT.

Covid is currently on the increase in Sweden, as well as seasonal viruses such as the flu.

According to TT, passengers whose flights were cancelled were rebooked onto other flights, but SAS warned that they might have to cancel more flights over the Christmas holidays.

“We can’t rule that out,” said Annamatz.

French reader Julien told The Local he made it to France in the end after his flight from Stockholm was cancelled twice.

It was first rescheduled from December 23rd to December 21st, and then they arrived at the airport on Tuesday only to find it had been cancelled a second time. He and his family were rebooked on another flight via Amsterdam that evening.

“It was very chaotic and one of our two suitcases got lost on the way, we’re still waiting for news of it,” he said.

“Arlanda Airport was packed with people, with extremely long queues. To their credit all the staffers we met there were calm and helpful. But that long of a trip with a small child was not fun. We start our holiday break exhausted and without half our things.”

Have your Christmas plans been disrupted by cancellations? Email our editorial team at [email protected] to share your story.

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”