KLM latest in the scramble to China

A KLM aircraft at the terminal.
Photo Credit: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

LONDON – KLM plans to increase services to China from the 26 March 2023, subject to government approvals of the increased programme. The airline becomes the latest to bolster its China network services.

KLM joins other European carriers in expanding its China network in response to easing of travel restrictions by the Chinese Government.

The Amsterdam-based carrier is looking to increase operations to six times a week from its hub-home base to the Chinese Capital, Beijing, and China’s largest city, Shanghai.

Both of these will again increase to daily flights from May 2023. Shanghai is currently being operated six times a week

The Dutch flag carrier will also increase its Hong Kong routes to three times a week.

  • Amsterdam – Hong Kong              Tues./Thurs./Sat.
  • Hong Kong – Amsterdam              Wed./Fri./Sun.
  • Amsterdam – Beijing                     daily
  • Beijing – Amsterdam                     daily
  • Amsterdam – Shanghai                 daily
  • Shanghai – Amsterdam                 daily

The Schiphol Hub

KLM has been operating to Shanghai, via the Seoul Incheon, since July 2020, and had recently increased these operations to three flights a week.

The ‘double-stop’ operation to Shanghai via Seoul Incheon was driven primarily by COVID restrictions in China and also the increased flight times to avoid Russian Airspace.

Amsterdam Schiphol is a significant hub airport within Europe and acts as key connection point to routes to Asia. The airport is KLM’s home base with the vast majority of its network departing or arriving at the Dutch Capital.

China was the 5th highest in passenger numbers for Amsterdam Schiphol in 2020 (approximately 350,000 passengers) before dropping to 17th in 2021 – driven by travel restrictions.

Shanghai was also Schiphol’s top destination for aircraft movements in 2020 and second in 2021, despite COVID restrictions, due primarily to Cargo Movements.

As reported by AviationSource here, a study released by Mabrian on 23 January 2023, showed that Amsterdam would be 82% down in flights to China in 2023 compared to 2019.

KLM’s announced expansion may assist in returning its previously strong China connections.

Expanding in Unison

In the statement issued, KLM advised the flight route increase and returns in a move that sees them join their sister company, Air France and other European carriers. SWISS also recently announced increased flights to China.

As part of SkyTeam, KLM has codeshare agreements with Xiamen Airlines, China Eastern Airlines and China Airlines (from Taiwan). It also has partnerships with China Southern Airlines and Sichuan Airlines.

All these airlines have recently announced expansions in networks and increases in exiting routes between Europe and China.

Air France-KLM tails.
By Jack K Byrne 3 Min Read
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