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. This summer, KLM’s network will be virtually identical to the one it operated in 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, fewer flights to the destinations will be offered and/or flights to the destinations will be offered in different combinations. KLM offers Riyad (Saudi Arabia) as a new destination this summer, while flights to Phuket (Thailand) will be introduced this winter.
The network of destinations plays a central role in KLM’s strategy. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, KLM has continued to operate this network to the greatest extent possible in order to preserve customers’ ability to travel and to ensure the continuity of cargo transport. Not only has this strategy proven successful during the course of the COVID crisis, it now makes it easier to scale up operations once more.
Most significant changes compared to 2019:
- There are 17 destinations planned for this summer, compared with 19 in 2019. Xiamen (China) is temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic (although KLM partner Xiamen Airlines is currently flying to this destination). Service to Denpasar (Indonesia) will be offered as soon as Bali reopens, which will hopefully be later this summer.
- Phuket will be added as a destination in winter 2021. Flights to the Thai island will be offered four times a week.
- For the time being, flights to Hangzhou and Shanghai (China) will keep the current stopover in Seoul (South Korea) for the time being. Once the rules change, KLM will make further adjustments to the schedules.
- KLM flies to Chengdu once a week with passengers and cargo, after which the flight continues on to Beijing via a stopover in Seoul. From there, KLM transports passengers and cargo back to Amsterdam.
- Service to Bengalûru (India) has been suspended.
Specific travel restrictions and quarantine requirements remain in effect in many Asian countries. As this changes, scheduling within the network will need to be updated frequently throughout the winter season as well.
- Middle East
- In the summer of 2021, KLM will fly to seven destinations – the same number as in 2019.
- KLM offers Riyad (Saudi Arabia) as a new destination, with flights departing twice a week in the summer season and, starting this winter, three times a week.
- Service to Abu Dhabi has been suspended, although KLM offers this destination as a codeshare with Etihad Airways. The expectation is that Abu Dhabi will be reintroduced as a destination in winter 2021, thereby increasing the number of destinations to eight.
Flexibility and a high standard of hygiene with KLM
KLM offers its customers maximum flexibility when booking, changing or cancelling a journey. What’s more, this year KLM has adopted the highest possible standard in hygiene measures – before, during and after the journey. In recognition of this, KLM was recently awarded Diamond APEX status, placing KLM among the world’s leading airlines when it comes to hygiene and health safety. KLM naturally also complies with all travel restrictions and measures issued by various governments.
Innovation and sustainability
With its 101-year history, KLM is among the oldest airlines in the world that still operates under its original name. As an aviation pioneer since the earliest days of the industry, innovation is part of the DNA and KLM continues to develop its strengths in the areas of customer experience, digitization, sustainability and technology. In February, for instance, KLM became the first airline to ever operate a flight fueled in part by sustainably-produced synthetic kerosine. Through KLM’s SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) programme, businesses with a corporate account can arrange for a portion of their air travel to be conducted using sustainable aviation fuel.
“ It is a positive sign that the number of destinations in the Middle and Far East has nearly returned to its previous level. As a result, customers can once again rely on KLM’s extensive network, as they were accustomed to doing. While this is a step in the right direction, we aren’t there yet. 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."- KLM President & CEO Pieter Elbers