Some airline operators are anticipating that in the coming months, governments across the world would ease COVID-19 protocols for persons who are fully vaccinated. They believe this would spur the sector’s recovery and serve as an incentive to make COVID-19 vaccination catch on globally.
The European Union (EU) is set to meet on June 9, 2021, to decide on whether to loosen coronavirus restrictions and open up due to the fewer patients with COVID-19 in intensive care units and increasing vaccination numbers. The airline operators hope that if the EU takes the decision to open up, it would prompt their embassies across the world to begin full-time work and issues more visas.
“If you hear the discussions in Europe, the people are saying that if you are fully vaccinated the regulation are to be eased up and we are waiting for it,” Country Manager of KLM, Dick van Nieuwenhuyzen, said in a media interview.
Speaking to the media after the Fireside Chat series organised by the Institute of International Affairs Ghana (GhIIA.org) to mark 60 years of the footprints of KLM in Ghana, Mr. van Nieuwenhuyzen said airline operators like his have a lot of plans and are ready to carry as many available people as possible but the partial work schedule of embassies due to COVID-19 protocols is affecting the issuance of visas.
“Europe is still closed just as the USA and Canada. If a Ghanaian wants to travel, you need a visa, and the embassies are not issuing visas. I can do a lot of things but if you are not allowed to travel because you won’t get a visa, my plans cannot manifest.” He said airline passenger numbers are going up gradually, but it is expected that when the embassies operate fully, airlines would work to their full capacity.
KLM and Netherlands-Ghana relationship
The Dutch Ambassador to Ghana, Ronald Strikker, described the Dutch airline giant, KLM, as a remarkable torchbearer of the excellent Ghana-Netherlands diplomatic ties.
Speaking at the same event, he disclosed that, his embassy works closely with KLM, as it is a global footmark of Dutch spirit, enterprise and friendship with the world.
“No other event aptly captures the Dutch spirit than the resilience of this airline in the face of the global pandemic. KLM was probably the only airline still flying despite the challenges of the pandemic,” he remarked. “We did not turn our backs on those who needed it most during this global crisis,” he said.
Reflecting further on his diplomatic experience in Ghana, the Ambassador said the outbreak of COVID-19 in the Dutch embassy in Ghana was the most challenging occurrence in his Ghanaian experience, and it gave him a foretaste, of the nature of the global challenge.
He affirmed his country’s commitment to helping developing countries like Ghana overcome the economic decline caused by the pandemic. He however stressed that a concerted and well-coordinated programme under the auspices of global institutions like the World Bank would prove more effective in this objective. He further disclosed that policy discussions are underway in his country towards contributing to the global efforts aimed at mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable countries.
The forum organized organised under the theme, ‘60 years of KLM in Ghana: Ghana and Netherlands growing together’ was graced by members of the diplomatic corps, members of the business community and the general public. It was hosted by Apiokor of Citi FM fame. The GhIIA Fireside Chat Series is a platform that provides key players in Ghana’s International Affairs landscape an opportunity to share their experiences and reflections on their storied careers with the members of the GhIIA.