KLM Outlines A Full Return To Destinations Served Pre-Crisis

Yesterday, KLM outlined its recovery plan, with the airline expecting to resume flights to all of its destinations over the coming months. The airline is already flying to a large number of destinations in its European network. The number of intercontinental routes continues to increase as countries relax their travel restrictions. It will be some time, however, before the aircraft are flying at the same frequency and capacity as they were pre-COVID-19.

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KLM will resume flying to most of its European network over the next few months. Photo: Getty Images

Recovery of destinations

KLM has announced that its network will continue to grow over the coming months, focusing on the destinations it offers rather than the frequency or capacity of the flights. The number of destinations the airline will offer over the next few months is comparable to the routes it was flying one year ago.

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The airline, which has been flying to 72 European destinations this month, will be operating services to 91 European destinations in August, September, and October. During the same period last year, KLM was flying to 92 destinations.

However, the number of flights that will be operating on these routes has decreased substantially. In August 2020, KLM will fly 10,000 flights in total across the 91 routes. This is considerably lower than the 19,000 flights it operated in Europe in August 2019.

Intercontinental flights are taking a little longer to return to normal, as several countries have opted to keep their borders closed for the time being. Last year, the airline was offering services to 69 destinations. Currently, the airline is operating flights to 51 intercontinental destinations, and a third of these are cargo flights.

The airline plans to increase the number of intercontinental destinations to 59 in August and 61 in September and October. The number of destinations may increase as travel restrictions relax.

Once travel demand resumes, the airline will increase the frequency and capacity of the flights by deploying larger aircraft.

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KLM is focusing on the number of destinations rather than frequency to try to increase revenue. Photo: Getty Images

KLM resumes flights to China

KLM resumed flights to China this week after a five-month suspension. The passenger flight left Schiphol bound for Shanghai on July 21st. The airline will offer one flight a week, which will make a stop in Seoul (South Korea) on both the outbound and inbound flights. This is in addition to the cargo flights that started on April 20th to transport medical equipment and supplies.

The B777-300 aircraft that departed Schiphol for Shanghai was waved off by KLM’s CEO Pieter Elbers and the Economic Counselor Chinese Embassy, Mr. Zhang Guosheng.

In a statement seen by Simple Flying, KLM President and CEO Pieter Elbers said,

The resumption of flights to Shanghai is a cautious but positive sign of recovery and illustrates our good relationship with China and our partners there. KLM is carefully expanding its network to make sure our customers have as much choice of destinations as possible. The fact that we can now offer Shanghai again is an important milestone in the laborious reconstruction of the KLM route network at a difficult time.

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KLM expects it to take up to two years to fully return to normal operations. Photo: Getty Images

KLM will fly to new destinations

To compensate for the decrease in demand for travel, KLM has opted to expand its network by introducing several new routes. The airline has announced that it will be operating new routes to Cork (Ireland), Southampton (UK), and Riyadh (Saudi Arabia).

The routes to Cork and Southampton will be operated using an 88-seat Embraer 175 aircraft and will begin on August 3rd and 31st, respectively.

Flights to Riyadh will operate four times a week from September 28th.

At a time when airlines are scaling back operations, KLM has opted to expand its network. Although the number of flights has not increased, by increasing the number of destinations, KLM hopes to increase revenue and remain resilient during these difficult times.

Will you be flying with KLM soon? Let us know in the comments.