KLM Grows Impressive UK Network With New Southampton Link

In a July 16 press release, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines announced that it is resuming its Cityhopper service between Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) and Southampton Airport (SOU). The news comes as a surprise following the SkyTeam alliance member’s decision to pull out of the English coastal city last summer. It cited landing slots at Schiphol as being the reason.

KLM will operate a daily flight to Southampton starting Agust 31.Photo: KLM

As they say, “what a difference a year can make,” and it was never more accurate than in this case. Following the Dutch airline’s decision to pull out of Southampton, we have seen Flybe’s collapse and a devasting pandemic.

Flybe and COVID-19 has changed everything

According to the Daily Echo, Southampton Airport managing director Neil Garwood wrote a letter to staff that said,

“You don’t need me to tell you that the world has changed completely for us following the sad demise of Flybe last week.Whilst we have some welcome news of backfill coming through, this will unfortunately not be sufficient to prevent significant restructuring across every organization involved with the airport, including our own.”

Loganair ERJ-145
Loganair has taken many of Flybe’s Southampton routes. Photo: Getty Images

The backfill Garwood referred to was an announcement by Scottish regional airline Loganair that they would move in to secure some of Flybe’s more lucrative routes. As if Flybe’s collapse was not enough, several months later, COVID-19 grounded most of the world’s planes and is just now starting a “toe in the water” approach of resuming service. One impact that the virus has had is that it has freed up many slots at major airports worldwide. 

KLM Cityhopper is prominent in the UK

KLM has a considerable presence in the United Kingdom. The Cityhopper service connects many regional airports to Amsterdam Schiphol from where passengers can connect with long-haul flights to global destinations.

The carrier’s new Southampton service will resume August 31, utilizing one of its 17 Embraer ERJ-175 jet aircraft. The Cityhopper E175 offers 20 seats in business class. It also holds eight seats in economy comfort and 60 seats in economy class.

KLM 3.4 billion euro rescue package
Free slots at Schiphol have allowed KLM to resume Southampton flights. Photo: Getty Images
The Amsterdam KLM flights will operate daily on the following schedule:
  • Flight number KL919 will depart Amsterdam at 16:35 CET and arrive in Southampton at 16:45 GMT.
  • Flight number KL920 with depart Southampton at 17:20 GMT and arrive in Amsterdam at 19:35 CET.

When looking at these times slots, we can see right away that they are not convenient times for connecting long-haul flights, but never the less it is a start.

Southampton wants a longer runway

In other Southampton Airport news, the airport operators have applied to extend the airports’ runway to accommodate Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 aircraft. The airport said its existing runway inhibited the use of larger planes such as these.

These types of aircraft are primarily used to transport passengers to Mediterranean holiday destinations. However, they cannot take off from Southampton when fully laden with passengers and fuel. For A320s and 737s to operate out of the city, the runway would need to be increased by an extra 164m (538ft).

Residents are opposed to the idea. They believe that the increased air traffic and the resulting noise would lower their house value. Requests like these have fallen on deaf county council ears. However, now given the unemployment brought on by COVID-19, the jobs created might swing it in favor of the airport operators.

What do you think about KLM coming back to Southampton? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.