The Second Wave Bites: KLM Reduces Capacity But Keeps Network

With the second wave of COVID-19 taking place in Europe, Dutch carrier KLM is adapting to the situation, revising its operations and flight offerings. While its European destinations will be 90-95% of pre-pandemic levels, the capacity and number of flights being offered by the carrier will be reduced.

KLM 737 parked
Some of KLM’s aircraft are parked at Groningen Airport Eelde for the winter due to capacity cuts. Photo: Getty Images

The second wave of coronavirus in Europe has resulted in new lockdowns, prompting KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to make network adjustments for the coming period. KLM will keep serving as many destinations as possible, but will reduce seat capacity and flight frequency. -KLM

The second wave

Some of Europe’s largest economies are now in lockdown mode as the second wave of the pandemic washes over the continent.

France will be locked down until December 1st, while the UK’s November 5th lockdown is due to end on December 2nd. In Germany, a ‘soft lockdown’ is in place until the end of November. Meanwhile, KLM’s home turf of the Netherlands is in the middle of a ‘temporary tightening of a partial lockdown.’ This will then revert to the partial lockdown from November 19th:

On 19 November we will return to the partial lockdown introduced on 14 October. In mid-December, the government will assess what can be done in the period that follows. -Government of the Netherlands

KLM 777
KLM’s long-haul intercontinental service will be 50-60% of pre-pandemic levels. Photo: ltdccba via Wikimedia Commons 

KLM operational status

The following is what we can expect from KLM for the next month or two:

  • 90-95% of the European destinations will be served compared to pre-crisis levels.
  • Service will be suspended to several destinations, primarily in the United Kingdom.
  • Overall capacity for European flights will be reduced by 40-50% compared to 2019.
  • Intercontinental passenger flights will be around 50-60% of pre-corona levels.
  • However, the airline will also be operating several cargo-only services. Including these will push intercontinental flights to 65% of normal.

The airline’s broad strategy is to offer fewer flights with smaller aircraft but maintain as many destinations as possible. This will enable the airline to keep its network intact through its Amsterdam hub.

“This strategy has proved successful in recent months and has ensured that we did not have to trim our network as rigorously as some other airlines. August and September showed clear signs of recovery…Depending on developments, further adjustments will be made in the coming period.”

KLM capacity reductions
KLM, like other airlines in the region, has been heavily affected by the second wave and subsequent lockdown measures. Photo: KLM

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.

KLM’s new destinations

The airline notes that by opening new routes, it can “make up for declining demand on other routes.” Thus, the following services have been recently added or will be added in the coming months:

  • Effective January 4th: Four weekly flights to Riyadh (Saudi-Arabia);
  • Effective December 10th: A Tanzanian triangle service with twice-weekly flights to Zanzibar, with a stop in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) on the return leg to Amsterdam;

The airline is also now operating three daily services to Berlin’s new Brandenburg airport and has resumed an Amsterdam-Calgary-Edmonton triangle service. Service has resumed to Chengdu and Beijing as well.

Have you had to fly on KLM recently? Please share your experience with us in the comments.