Spain’s Iberia calls for government to scrap face mask rule on planes

Spain’s flagship airline Iberia has criticised the Spanish government’s ongoing mask requirement for passengers on planes bound to the country, stressing that it “doesn’t make any sense” and “it affects tourism”.

mask plane spain
Spain is one of only a few countries around the world which still requires masks on public transport, including aeroplanes.(Photo by PAOLO AVILA / AFP)

Although the majority of Spain’s domestic and travel Covid-19 restrictions were lifted before the summer of 2022, one of the only rules that still remains in place is the obligation of wearing a face mask on public transport. 

This includes aeroplanes, buses, trains, taxis and some ferries, but mask wearing isn’t compulsory at airports, ports or bus and train stations. 

For officials of Spain’s flagship airline Iberia, the time has come for this rule to be lifted.

“One of the airline industry’s main concerns is that mask wearing doesn’t make much sense,” Iberia’s Corporate Communications Director Juan Cierco said during a business talk organised by Spanish news agency Europa Press on Monday.

“We’re the only country along with China and one or two more that still has this rule.”

Cierco added, whilst putting on a mask to prove a point, that: “Here we are with seven ministers, none of them are wearing a mask, so getting on a plane now to or from Spain and being forced to wear a mask doesn’t make sense”.

The corporate director stressed that he wasn’t questioning the view of health experts but couldn’t understand why almost all other countries ditched the mask rule for public transport long ago.

“We should take off our masks because it’s affecting tourism and business now. Many international passengers tell us that they prefer to fly to other destinations or with other airlines, because 10 hours with the mask on board a plane, when it is no longer necessary or essential for health reasons, it just doesn’t make any sense”.

As things stand, the general rule is that cabin crew from all airlines have to tell passengers on planes bound to Spain that they have to wear masks. 

If on the other hand the aircraft is flying out of Spain, the mask rules of the country which the plane is flying to apply, which in almost all cases means face coverings aren’t required.

READ ALSO: Masks still compulsory on planes in Spain despite confusion

Spain’s Confederation of Bus Transport (Confebús), German company FlixBus and Madrid Municipal’s Transport Company (EMT) have also voiced their opposition to the lingering mask rule.

So, will Iberia’s views make a difference to the Spanish government’s stance regarding masks?

According to a report published in late October, the Spanish government’s health experts have agreed not to review face mask usage on public transport until March 2023.

The article, which cites internal sources from Spain’s government, adds that the country’s Public Health Commission (a body which advises Spain’s Health Ministry on which measures to introduce) has reportedly agreed to shelve any possible changes until March, and as things stand keep the rule in place “for an indefinite time” as “it is not the right time to remove masks due to the arrival of winter”.

Spain’s Health Ministry, however, argues that no fixed date for reviewing face mask legislation has been set.

Member comments

  1. easyJet certainly don’t abide by the law. I fly quite regularly to the U.K. and on the return leg to Mallorca (when masked should be worn under Spanish law) this law is never applied and hasn’t been for a long time. I can’t speak for other airlines but I suspect that it’s the same situation.

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VIDEO: Four injured after ceiling collapses at Valencia airport

Four people have been injured at Valencia airport in eastern Spain when part of a ceiling collapsed in the departure lounge. 

VIDEO: Four injured after ceiling collapses at Valencia airport

The incident occurred at around 18:45pm on Sunday in the terminal departure gate. According to sources Aena, the body that runs Spain’s airport network, the four passengers suffered minor injuries and were treated by airport staff.

“I heard a thunderous noise and then I noticed how several debris hit my head, my arms…. We were very lucky. The worst thing is the fear and the psychological impact,” said one of the four injured.

Aena sources added that the four injured passengers also inhaled dust after the accident, but were all able to continue their respective journeys after receiving medical assistance.

Shortly before the roof collapsed, a Guardia Civil officer warned one of the passengers to stand back. “He told me to stand further back, as he could see that the ceiling was affected. I didn’t think much of it,” they said.

Shortly thereafter, a wooden structure and part of the ceiling collapsed and debris fell on the four people. Three of them were seated while waiting for their flight and one was standing. “I’d gotten up to buy a bottle of water and the ceiling fell just as I was about to sit down again,” said another injured traveller.

The victims suffered contusions to the head, arms and other parts of the body. “Large chunks of ceiling, wood and light bulbs fell. One of the debris broke when it hit my sister in the head,” she added.

Aena has opened an investigation into the incident.

READ ALSO: Valencia and Alicante airports ‘on brink of collapse’ ahead of busy summer