KLM Scales Up Operations In Asia And The Middle East

KLM’s long-haul operations are getting back to business. The Amsterdam-based airline is restoring flights across its destinations in Asia and the Middle East. While frequencies will be less than before, the airline promises to be back flying to almost all of its pre-travel downturn Asian and Middle East destinations this northern summer.

KLM is restoring flights to almost all Middle East & Asian destinations this summer. Photo: KLM

“As more and more countries are reopening their borders, KLM is anticipating a cautious re-emergence of customer demand for destinations in Asia and the Middle East,” a statement issued by KLM reads. “This summer, KLM’s network will be virtually identical to the one it operated in 2019.”

Before the travel downturn, KLM had a substantial schedule of long-haul flights into Asia and the Middle East. However, plunging passenger demand and travel restrictions saw most of those flights suspended in 2020.

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KLM will fly to seven destinations across the Middle East

This summer, KLM says it will be back flying to its seven destinations in the Middle East and 17 of its 19 destinations in Asia. However, flights to Xiamen (XMN) and Denpasar (DPS) remain suspended while travel restrictions to those destinations remain in place.

While KLM may be heading back to its Asian and Middle East destinations, the airline does say its summer 2021 schedules will be thinner than before, and flights to some destinations will be offered in different combinations.

This summer, KLM will fly to Muscat (MCT), Dubai (DXB), Bahrain (BAH), Damman (DMM), Kuwait (KWI), Riyadh (RUH), and Abu Dhabi  (AUH) in the Middle East. The flights to Riyadh are a first for KLM, with twice-weekly flights running over the summer, scaling up to three times a week in winter.

For the time being, Etihad will operate the AUH flights as a codeshare with KLM. The Dutch airline is including Abu Dhabi as a summer destination on this basis. KLM expects to start flying its own metal to Abu Dhabi this winter.

KLM will start flying to Riyadh for the first time this summer. Photo: KLM

KLM’s flights to Denpasar & Xiamen remain suspended

KLM’s aircraft will be landing in the following Asian destinations this summer; New Delhi (DEL), Mumbai (BOM), Bangalore (BLR), Bangkok (BKK), Kuala Lumpur (KUL), Singapore (SIN), Jakarta (CGK), Manila (MNL), Hong Kong (HKG), Taipei (TPE), Osaka (ITM), Tokyo (NRT), and Seoul (ICN), Chengdu (CDU), Beijing (PEK), Hangzhou (HGH), and Shanghai (PVG).

KLM is also keeping an eye on Phuket’s sandbox and currently plans to resume flights there this winter. Flights to Hangzhou and Shanghai will run via Seoul for the time being but KLM expects to adjust that schedule as travel restrictions relax. The weekly flights to Chengdu and Beijing will also continue onto Seoul before backtracking direct to Amsterdam. The airline wants to resume flights to Denpasar and Xiamen as soon as the situation allows.

“It is a positive sign that the number of destinations in the Middle and the Far East has nearly returned to its previous level,” says KLM’s CEO Pieter Elbers.

KLM will fly to 17 of its 19 Asian destinations this summer. Photo: KLM

Announcing the new flights, KLM’s CEO took the opportunity to campaign for a fast vaccination rollout and for the widespread acceptance of health passports. The combination is critical to restoring long-haul flying argues Pieter Elbers.

“Vaccinations are the key to the recovery of the aviation sector. After that, an internationally valid vaccination passport will play a crucial role in restoring our clients’ mobility.”