KLM Royal Dutch Airlines: All you need to know

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has marked a milestone by becoming the world’s oldest airline operating under its original name for a sector known for its unpredictable business cycle and financial instability. KLM (Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij) is the flag carrier of the Netherlands with incredible 100-plus years of service and an enviable amount of brand recognition worldwide. This article covers everything you need to know about the longest-running airline KLM Royal Dutch. Let’s dive right in.


Background of KLM Airlines

KLM Dutch Airlines is the flagship airline of the Netherlands, operating as a part of the Air France-KLM Group. Headquartered in Amstelveen, KLM Royal operates scheduled passenger and cargo services through its hub at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to over 140 destinations. It has been a member of the SkyTeam alliance since September 13, 2004, and offers flights to more than 800 destinations via codeshare agreements.

KLM Airlines traced its root to 1919 when a group of Dutch businessmen founded the carrier as one of the first commercial airline companies. Little did they know KLM would become such an iconic brand that would touch the lives of millions and mark glorious 100 years of globe-spanning operations.

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Founded on October 7, 1919, the fledgling company launched its inaugural flight on May 17, 1920, using De Havilland DH-16 from London to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The Dutch flag carrier kickstarted its long-haul operations with its first intercontinental flight to Batavia (now Jakarta, Indonesia) in 1924. From the heroic early years of aviation to the cutting-edge technological era, KLM Royal has come a long way and is still pushing through to become the largest and most reliable airline in the world.

Important milestones in KLM’s recent history

The century-old history of KLM Dutch Airline has been marked by several major milestones, such as:

  • Creation of a strategic partnership with Northwest Airlines in the early 1990s
  • Acquisition of a holding in Kenya Airlines in 1996
  • Air UK as a wholly-owned KML subsidiary in July 1997
  • Air France-KLM merger in 2004

Air France-KLM is the largest European airline group comprising two separate airlines- KML and Air France, competing for the market share against European giants like Lufthansa Group, IAG, and various other carriers. Air France-KLM Group has 548 aircraft to transport more than 77 million passengers annually (Air France and KLM combined). Although KLM Dutch Airlines is a subsidiary of a holding company Air France-KLM, it retains its brand, trade name, and its identity. As such, it seems fitting for KLM to stake a claim to continuous operation under its original name.

KLM routes

The Netherlands’ national carrier KLM Royal Airlines and its partners fly to an extensive network of over 150 destinations in 70 countries on five continents worldwide. KLM flights are mostly operated by Boeing jets, as the carrier has nearly 100 Boeing aircraft at its disposal.

KLM international flights to Canada serve Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver destinations. In contrast, KLM flights to the US serve cities of Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, New York City, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Washington DC.

In Europe, KLM Dutch Airlines has its footprint in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, etc. KLM flights have strengthened their presence in Asia, i.e., China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. KML international flights to China are crucial for the national carrier owing to the country’s huge air traffic volume. KLM Airlines flew to Beijing for the first time on June 29, 1996, and currently, it serves a handful of new Chinese destinations, namely Chengdu, Hangzhou, Shanghai, and Xiamen.

  • KLM UK

KLM UK was the subsidiary of KLM Royal Dutch, founded in 1998 to operate services within the United Kingdom and from there to Continental Europe. Headquartered in London Stansted Airport, this British KLM subsidiary used to deploy ATR-72, Fokker 50, and Fokker 100 aircraft for its operations until it was merged into KLM Cityhopper in 2003.

Today, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has created a meaningful customer base in the UK with diversified flying at iconic global hubs such as London Heathrow Airport, Manchester Airport, London City Airport, Birmingham Airport, etc. KLM Dutch offers convenient flights to the biggest cities in the UK, including Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Durham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Norwich, and Southampton.

Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IST), Ankara Esenboa Airport (ESB), Gaziantep Ouzeli International Airport (GZT), and other Turkish airports are all served by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines on a regular basis. You can find several hotels at Istanbul airport. One of the largest airport hotels in the world is the Istanbul Airport Hotel.

KLM fleet

The fleet of KLM Airlines is dominated by Boeing jets with 46 B737s, 31 B777s, and 18 B787 Dreamliners.  KLM’s Boeing 737 fleet has an overall average age of 15 years and consists of 10 737-700s, 31 737-800s, and 5 737-900s. These flying birds carry names of real birds like Eagle, Hawk, Goose, Swift, Flamingo, Redwing, Owl, Robin, etc., and spread their wings to destinations within Europe.

The widebody fleet of Boeing 777s has an average age of 12.5 years and encompasses 15 777-200ERs and 16 777-300ERs. KLM Boeing 777-300ERs bear names of national parks such as De Hoge Veluwe National Park, Kaziranga National Park, etc., and fly to KLM routes of Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, Singapore, Denpasar, Tokyo, and others.

Photo by Manuel Bruins ; KLM royal Dutch

The state-of-the-art Dreamliners are the mainline aircraft and workhorses of the KLM fleet, averaging 4.5 years of age.KLM travelers may fly with the Boeing 787-9s on long-haul routes to Delhi, Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro, Salt Lake City, Bogota, or Cartagena. KLM Dreamliners have two cabin classes: economy class and business class in 3-3-3 and 1-2-1 layouts, respectively. These technological marvels are the backbone of KLM long-range flights, as they can fly up to 8,500 nautical miles with minimal environmental impact. KLM Dreamliners are all named after flowers and are indeed the prettiest sights for aviation enthusiasts.

Besides Boeing jets, KLM has a handful of European-made Airbus aircraft in its fleet. The carrier operates 11 Airbus A330s on a diverse range of long-range destinations spanning North America, the Middle East, and West Africa.

KLM Flying Blue

Flying into wild blue yonder is further possible with KLM’s Flying Blue loyalty program, which rewards you with mileage points based on the distance traveled, ticket fare, and a class of service. You can get free membership in the KLM Flying Blue program and earn Experience Points (XP) and Award Miles when flying. Make great use of the Miles you have earned by redeeming them for free tickets, seating class upgrades, extra baggage allowance, wifi on board, lounge access, etc. Miles aren’t limited to KLM flight tickets; they can be earned from all other SkyTeam partners.

Due to a wide array of partners, KLM customers can access more benefits even when they’re not traveling. You will be rewarded when you book hotel nights, rent a car, and shop with KLM partners.

Flying Blue is also the loyalty program of Air France as a part of Air France-KLM Group, and the membership tier is divided into four categories; Explorer, Silver, Gold, and Platinum, depending on the number of Experience Points earned.

Is KLM a part of Star Alliance?

No, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is not a part of Star Alliance. Still, it is a member airline of SkyTeam-the second largest airline alliance, which includes Air France, Delta Air Lines, Alitalia, Korean Air, CSA Czech Airlines, etc. As a SkyTeam member, it teams up with other partner airlines to offer its customers convenient flight schedules with seamless connections to 1,036 destinations worldwide. All Flying Blue members will get their usual benefits when traveling on any SkyTeam partner airlines.

KLM - aviationnepal
Source: www.theheinekencompany.com/media/ ; KLM royal Dutch

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines subsidiaries

KLM Dutch Airlines has a 100% stake in several companies, such as KLM Cityhopper, KLM Asia, Transavia Airlines, Martinair, and Cygnific. KLM Cityhopper is the regional airline subsidiary offering scheduled European feeder services to over 60 destinations on behalf of KML. It was founded on April 1, 1991, and is headquartered in Haarlemmermeer, North Holland. It utilizes a fleet of Embraer E175, Embraer E190, and Embraer E195-E2 to tap into KLM’s intra-European route networks.

Also Read: The world’s first in-flight draft beer service in KLM

KLM Cargo services

Not only does KLM specialize in passenger operations, but it also prioritizes cargo transportation. In cooperation with KLM and Air France, Martinair operates scheduled and charter cargo flights from its hub in Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. KLM owns a cargo fleet of a Boeing 747-400BCF and three Boeing 747-400ERFs to operate freighter services to more than 15 destinations worldwide.

Is KLM a good airline?

KLM Royal Dutch Airline is a 4-star certified carrier by Skytrax in the light of its onboard product, airport quality, cabin staff hospitality, etc. Dating back to the early 20th century, KLM has seen plenty of highs and lows in its 100+-year-old history, but each time it has come back stronger by weathering storms and headwinds. With a rich history, strong reputation, valuable experience, and diverse destinations, KLM will continue to shine and grace the world skies for years to come.

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