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
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.
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
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
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