A Look At KLM’s Fifth Freedom Routes

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Fifth freedom routes are those flown by airlines that do not originate in either the origin or destination country. In most cases, every KLM flight begins or ends at its hub in Amsterdam. However, a fifth freedom route is outside of this and today we’ll go over the fifth freedom flights that the Dutch carrier offers.

KLM’s Buenos Aires to Santiago service is operated using a Boeing 787-9. Photo: KLM

The list

Kuwait-Bahrain: Currently serviced by an Airbus A330-200, this is probably the shortest widebody flight flown by KLM, lasting only about 45 minutes. The full sequence of the journey is AMS-KWI-BAH-KWI-AMS.

Buenos Aires-Santiago: Lasting approximately an hour and 40 minutes, the flight currently uses the Boeing 787-9 and “competes” with another airline flying it as a fifth freedom route: Air Canada’s Boeing 777. The full sequence of this journey is AMS-EZE-SCL-EZE-AMS.

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Dammam-Muscat: This service connects the coastal Saudi Arabian city of Dammam with the capital city of Oman. Alternating between an A330-300 and A330-200, the journey is about 75-80 minutes long. The full sequence of this journey is AMS-DMM-MCT-DMM-AMS.

Denpasar-Singapore: On to Southeast Asia where this route takes roughly two and a half hours. This route connects the popular Indonesian holiday destination of Bali with the bustling financial hub that is Singapore. Just over two hours long, this route is usually operated by a Boeing 777-300ER. The full sequence of this journey is AMS-SIN-DPS-SIN-AMS.

Jakarta-Kuala Lumpur: Connecting the capital cities of Indonesia and Malaysia, this service alternates between a Boeing 777-300ER and a 777-200ER. This service lasts roughly one hour and 40 minutes. The full sequence of this journey is AMS-KUL-CGK-KUL-AMS

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Not quite fifth freedom

There are also a few KLM services that operate between two cities that aren’t Dutch. However, these routes wouldn’t be considered true fifth freedom routes because they aren’t sold as independent flights between the two cities. If we take the first example below, no passengers would be able to get on at Kigali and offload at Entebbe. The only passengers that can get on at Kigali are ones bound for Amsterdam.

Here are some examples:

  • Kigali-Entebbe
  • Kilimanjaro-Dar es Salaam
  • Freetown-Monrovia
  • Quito-Guayaquil
  • Bogota-Cartegena
  • San José to Liberia
  • Windhoek-Luanda

Some people refer to these as ‘triangle routes’. They are often undesirable as they can add an extra hour or two on to a journey with an additional take-off and landing (and all the safety briefings and procedures that come with them).

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KLM A330
KLM’s A330s operate quite frequently on the airline’s middle east services. Photo: KLM

There’s also the ‘domestic’ service that KLM has in Canada, between the cities of Montreal and Ottawa. It’s really just a bus with a KLM flight number of its own, but again, it’s one of those weird services that the airline offers.

Conclusion

KLM, Boeing 777-300, Boeing Order
One of KLM’s existing Boeing 777-300ER’s wears a special half orange livery. Photo: KLM

One thing is true of all of the above services: they are designed to service additional cities that may not have enough demand for a straightforward round-trip to Amsterdam. By adding another city into the route, the airline can service another low-demand faraway city, filling-up its long-range widebody jets.

At least it’s a good way for some travelers to experience KLM widebody service even though they are far from the Netherlands.

Have you flown any of the above services? If so, let us know in the comments if you liked them – or if you’d rather go with a local carrier.

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