KLM Royal Dutch Airlines – the flag carrier of Netherlands is adding flights and planning equipment changes to India. This comes on the backdrop of Jet Airways suspending its operations. Jet Airways had moved closer to the KLM – Air France group after moving its Brussels hub to Amsterdam and offered its customers phenomenal reach in EU and N.America with partner airlines KLM, Air France, Virgin Atlantic and Delta.
KLM announced the launch of flights to Bengaluru effective Winter schedule which begins on 28th October 2019. The airline will operate the route thrice a week and deploy the B787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. The flights will depart Amsterdam on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while the departure from Bengaluru will be on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
The timings to Bengaluru are as below
KL879 AMS1105 – 0050(+1)BLR
KL880 BLR0245 – 0820AMS
The flights are now open for sale.
The timings are akin to the Jet Airways timings and connect well to the KLM departure bank to North America. KLM’s B787-9 will operate with 30 Business class seats, 48 premium economy (economy comfort) and 216 economy class seats, a total of 294 seats. The airline has said that it will close its services to Colombo to accommodate the flights to Bengaluru from Amsterdam.
KLM also announced changes to its Mumbai and Delhi flights. Airlineroutes reported that for the month of September, B777-200ER will replace B787-9 on 4 out of 7 days a week, which has 316 seats – marginally higher than the B787-9. From 30th September till the end of Summer schedule (26th October 2019), the airline will operate the B787-10 which seats 344 passengers in 38 business class, 36 premium economy class and 270 economy class seats. The winter schedule sees the airline operate the B772 and B77W with the later having 408 seats.
The airline is increasing frequency to Mumbai from three to five, effective 26th September and continues into winter schedule. The fourth frequency comes in from early September. The airline will make this service Daily starting winter schedule.
This is largely seen as an increase in to fill in the void left by Jet Airways, which operated daily services to Amsterdam from Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru. While the Mumbai and Delhi departures saw the B77W in operation, the Bengaluru – Amsterdam route was scheduled on the A330-300.
India and Netherlands have an open skies agreement to six metros in India.
The sudden void left by the suspension of Jet Airways would look attractive for KLM, but a similar attraction did not last long for SN Brussels which started flights to Mumbai after Jet Airways shifted its European gateway from Brussels to Amsterdam in 2016,
For Indian travelers – Jet Airways gave them the familiarity and “Indian-ness”. It was also coupled with strong distribution and brand in India. KLM has neither of it and will be in straight competition with fellow European carriers Lufthansa and British Airways and a host of other carriers like Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, Turkish and others.
Its own metal, makes the route challenging for KLM. The airline has carefully crafted its strategy by not starting daily flights and keeping it restricted for now. The change in equipment should not be read about much because these changes are a fair mix of maintenance requirement as new aircraft come online for the airline and it tires juggling it to some markets to fit into rotations effectively. The newer aircraft have lower costs and sometimes find their way to the markets which have thinner margins to help recover costs.
By winter 2020, we would know how the airline has been able to perform and if it has matched the likes of its competition to attract traffic.