Korean Air to impose face mask requirements on all passengers

South Korea's flag carrier Korean Air said Friday it will require all passengers on domestic routes to wear face masks during travel starting next Monday in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, Yonhap News reported.

The move is in line with some U.S. airlines, including United Airlines, American Airlines and JetBlue Airways, which have mandated facial coverings for all passengers from early May.

Earlier this month, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expressed its support to have passengers wear face masks onboard aircrafts as a means to avoid the spread of COVID-19 during travel.

The masks are "a critical part of a layered approach to biosecurity to be implemented temporarily when people return to traveling by air," IATA said.

Read more: Global airlines body IATA supports calls for face masks in flights

Korean Air said its provisional consolidated operating loss for the January-March quarter was 82.8 billion won (67.25 million U.S. dollars) as travel restrictions and crippled demand due to the coronavirus pandemic hit the aviation industry. The loss compares with a 140.6 billion won (1.15 billion U.S. dollars) operating profit in the same quarter last year.

The company plans to resume flights on 19 international routes next month, including the flights to Washington, D.C., Frankfurt, Singapore and Beijing, to prepare for possible increase in passenger travel demand as countries gradually ease entry restrictions on incoming travelers.

(With input from Reuters)

(Cover: Korean Air's airplanes are parked at a runway at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, March 24, 2020. /VCG)