Spain rules out EU’s proposed end of mask rules for flights

Spain’s Health Minister has said passengers on flights to and from Spain will have to continue wearing face masks inside planes, despite the EU’s recommendation that the rule be lifted on May 16th.

Spain rules out EU's proposed end of mask rules for flights
Despite the EU's recommendation, airlines can still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. (Photo by Martin Sylvest / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP) / Denmark OUT

Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias on Wednesday clarified that mask rules for passengers on board planes and other means of public transport in Spain remain the same and are unlikely to change in the coming days. 

It follows the news hours earlier by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), who recommended Member States lift mandatory mask-wearing at airports and during flights from Monday May 16th.

Neighbouring France has followed the EU’s advice and swiftly announced it will end the obligatory face mask rule on all public transport (not just aircraft) on May 16th, but not Spain.

“Europe says that the use of the mask on flights must be aligned with national regulations and in Spain we only recently decided that in this context it remains mandatory,” Darias said in reference to the fact that Spain lifted the indoor mask rule for most indoor spaces on April 20th, but not on public transport.

READ ALSO: Where do you still need to wear a mask indoors in Spain?

“All the measures have to follow a process and therefore we have to advance with caution and proportionality as we have until now.”

Additionally, airlines can still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of their flights and the updated EU health safety measures still state that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of Covid-19.

Currently, masks remain mandatory on Ryanair flights (FFP2 for travel to and from Italy, Austria, and Germany), optional on some Easyjet flights and not mandatory but recommended on TUI or Jet2 flights from the UK, although clashing mask legislation between Spain and the UK will likely mean airlines decide to keep face coverings obligatory on flights to Spain.

Spanish flagship airline Iberia has said it will continue to follow the rules and recommendations of Spain’s Health Ministry and the Spanish Aviation Safety Agency (AESA) has also pointed out that for now it is still necessary to be in compliance with national mask regulations.

Although passengers on most public transport in Spain (aeroplanes, trains, buses, taxis but not on ferries unless crowded) still have to wear a mask, a face covering is no longer mandatory inside airports, train stations, metro platforms or ports.

There are currently 14 European countries that require masks on public transport, including Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece.

EXPLAINED: What are Spain’s mask rules for travel?

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Ryanair strikes: Which Spanish airports are most affected?

Ryanair cabin crew in Spain resumed strike action on Monday. But which airports will be affected, and how long will it last?

Ryanair strikes: Which Spanish airports are most affected?

Ryanair’s long-running cabin crew walkout dispute returned to Spanish airports this Monday, 8th August. 

With several strikes throughout June and July, the union representing striking workers, Unión Sindical Obrera (USO), announced today that the industrial action will continue for five months – until 7 January 2023 – and take place every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday until then.

READ MORE: Ryanair cabin crew in Spain begin latest round of strike action

During the first two weeks alone, it is anticipated that 1.4 million passengers will be affected – an average of 130,600 travellers every single day.

Which airports will be affected?

The budget Irish airline, a favourite of holidaymakers from Britain and Ireland, has operational bases across Spain and all could be affected by strike action throughout the rest of the year.

If you have booked a Ryanair flight to any of the following airports, keep in mind strike action will be happening on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through the summer and likely until the end of the year if no agreement is made between striking staff and employers. 

Ryanair bases in Spain: Madrid-Barajas, Barcelona El-Prat, ​​Girona, Santiago de Compostela, Alicante, Palma, Ibiza, Malaga, Seville, Valencia, and Palma de Mallorca. 

The airports that will be most affected by the latest walk-outs are: Madrid-Barajas, Barcelona-El Prat, Malaga, Alicante, Seville and Palma de Mallorca.

Both domestic and international flights will be disrupted, and with 650 routes, Ryanair has the highest passenger volume in the Spanish air travel market.

READ MORE: Airport chaos in Europe: Airlines cancel 15,000 flights in August


By 9am on the morning of Monday 8th, 61 flights had been affected by the latest wave of staff walkouts, with 10 cancellations and 111 delayed flights.

Unions demands include the immediate reinstatement of 11 workers who were sacked for taking part in strike action in July, an improvement to pay and working conditions, including putting salaries back to pre-pandemic level, and aligning the collective bargaining agreement with Spanish labour legislation.

Since the summer strike action began, there have been 16 total days of walkouts, which have caused over 300 cancellations and a 3,455 delays at Ryanair’s Spanish base airports.