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Sunday, 12 June 2016





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KLM: World's oldest airline to return to Colombo

KLM, or rather Air France-KLM to give its full name, is the world's oldest surviving civilian airline still using its original name, having launched operations on October 7, 1919 as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. The acronym comes from the Dutch name Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij N.V.

On September 30, 2003, Air France and KLM agreed to a merger plan in which Air France and KLM would become subsidiaries of a holding company called Air France-KLM. Both airlines would retain their own brands, and both CDG in Paris and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol would become key hubs.

Amsterdam-based KLM, a member of the Sky team Alliance, will renew its links with Sri Lanka from October with two flights a week. KLM is resuming flights to Colombo after almost two decades, having stopped flights in 1997 at the height of the conflict in the North.


KLM will begin operating twice-weekly direct service to Colombo from October 31, using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with 30 seats in World Business Class, 48 seats in Economy Comfort and 216 seats in Economy Class. (The airline does not offer First Class).

A TTG Asia report quoted Sunil Peiris, Director at Jetwing Travels, as saying that a strong carrier like KLM would be a tremendous boost for Europe as a source market given how SriLankan Airlines and Austrian Airlines are the only ones currently providing direct connections there from Sri Lanka. "It will enhance the value of Sri Lanka and encourage more carriers to fly to Colombo," he said.

Harm Kreulen, Air France-KLM Senior Vice President Benelux, said, "KLM continually invests in its network to offer customers an ever-broader range of destinations. Having introduced a record number of new destinations in the summer of 2016, KLM will add two further destinations to its network this winter: Colombo and Miami".


Curiously, while introducing the Dreamlimner on many routes, KLM still flies several old aircraft, most notably the Fokker 70. KLM is saying goodbye to its last Fokker 70 plane on October 29 next year.

The last Fokker 50 disappeared from the KLM fleet in 2010 and the Fokker 100 planes were phased out in 2012. KLM currently still has 14 Fokker 70's in its fleet. Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker went bankrupt 20 years ago. The KLM Fokker 70's are among the last planes still in use. From November next year, the KLM and KLM City Hopper fleets will consist solely of Embraer 190's and 175's (source: KLM)

KLM, famous for its 'Journey of Inspiration' slogan, was also one of the first European airlines to offer services to the USA.

The first flight was operated to New York on May 21, 1946 - a 34-hour, multi-stop affair on a DC-4 dubbed 'De Rotterdam'. Today, its presence is bolstered by a strong joint-venture and frequent-flier partnership with Atlanta-based Delta, the USA's second-busiest carrier.

Turbulent year

However, the airline industry including KLM is facing turbulence, as a result of falling oil prices and ticket prices. The Franco-Dutch flag carrier has warned of a turbulent year ahead, with downward pressure on ticket prices and negative currency impacts.

The airline group reported a 99m operating loss for the first quarter of this year, which was better than analysts' expectations and a sharp improvement on the 266m loss one year earlier. In 2014, it had an operating income of only 175 million.

The airline recently chose Jean-Marc Janaillac, head of bus and train operator Transdev, to replace Chief Executive Alexandre de Juniac who is due to leave by August after struggling to restructure the airline group.

As of summer 2016 KLM offers 145 worldwide destinations on its own, with 68 long haul and 77 medium haul destinations, excluding the two new destinations Miami and Colombo. With Air France and Delta, this goes up to 233. The airline operates more than 116 new and old aircraft with an enviable safety record.

Among its planes are the Airbus A330, Boeing 737, Boeing 747, Boeing 777, Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Embraer 175, Embraer190 and Fokker 70 in various configurations.

It also has three cargo aircraft. Its Frequent Flyer programme is named Flying Blue.

KLM has several subsidiaries including Martinair, KLM City Hopper and Transavia. KLM also operates a separate KLM Asia service to serve Taiwan. Altogether, KLM has 33,000 employees, excluding the Air France alliance.



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