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Masks mandatory on all flights starting Wednesday

All News 15:17 May 25, 2020

SEOUL, May 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korean airlines will require all passengers on domestic and international routes to wear masks on board as the new coronavirus outbreak continues to spread, the transport ministry said Monday.

The move that goes into effect Wednesday comes as global companies, like United Airlines Inc. and American Airlines Inc., recently introduced the rules.

Korean Air Lines Co., the country's biggest and national flag carrier, became the first Korean carrier to adopt the rules requiring masks to be worn on domestic routes to stem the spread of COVID-19 pandemic since last Monday.

Korean Air said it will also have passengers on international flights begin wearing masks Wednesday in line with the government guidance.

Masks mandatory on all flights starting Wednesday - 1

Other local carriers, such as Asiana Airlines Inc., the second biggest and another full-service carrier, and seven low-cost carriers, said they will follow the guidance.

The seven budget carriers are Jeju Air Co., Jin Air Co., Air Busan Co., Air Seoul Inc., Eastar Jet, T'way and Fly Gangwon.

Early this month, the International Air Transport Association, which represents global airlines, recommended the mandatory wearing of masks or face coverings on flights to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Korean Air plans to resume flights on 19 international routes next month as it strives to offset a sharp decline in passenger travel demand with an increased demand for cargo deliveries.

The resumption is aimed at preparing for increased travel demand after countries ease their entry restrictions on incoming passengers to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company said.

Its reopening routes include Washington, D.C., Seattle, Vancouver, Toronto, Frankfurt, Singapore, Beijing and Kuala Lumpur.

Asiana Airlines plans to restart flight services on 13 international routes -- one to Seattle and 12 to Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai -- June 1, while increasing the number of flights on six other routes to cities that include Frankfurt, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

This undated file photo shows planes of Korean Air and Asiana Airlines at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul. (Yonhap)

The decision is aimed at meeting business travel demand though leisure travel demand has yet to recover amid the virus fears, the company said.

Local airlines have suspended most of their flights on international routes since late March following country lockdowns and entry restrictions.

The transport ministry also made it obligatory for people who use buses and taxis to begin wearing masks Tuesday. It will enforce a rule that does not penalize bus and taxi drivers who refuse to serve customers not wearing masks.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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