By Marco Finelli reporting from Amsterdam.
KLM, is 100 years old. It is by far the first airline to do so. Pieter Elbers – President and CEO of the carrier wanted to underline it “we are the first and only original to achieve this result without having changed our name”. A clear thing that Elbers wanted to point out “Like yesterday and how it is today and it will be for the future KLM has thought big since the early days. Only after 4 years did the first intercontinental service opening a service to Batavia (now Jakarta in Indonesia) and then Curaçao later, the first freight services and in 1946 the first carrier to open a passenger service between Europe and the United States with a flight to New York, up to the first country to sign an Open Sky agreement with the USA”.
From these results Elbers indicated that KLM is always innovative, looking to the future to be a carrier in step with the times. Elbers said on this “global competition is absolutely a present factor, you have seen in the last two years how many carriers have disappeared from the scene”. You can’t stay behind. Challenges must be fought every day, keeping up with the times. 100 years after its foundation, the company is always at the forefront with the profusion of all the more than 30,000 employees who in all areas of the carrier continue to work so that KLM produces high standards, expansion and above all positive financial results. Major investments in the last two years on digital both as customers care and as a company.
Over 28 million followers on social media, more than 143 million visits to the website and over 19,000 multimedia devices in the hands of employees. 2018 was a memorable year as the presentation indicates. KLM saw over 34 million passengers on board of its aircraft. Seven regional Embraer 175s entered the fleet and three Dreamliners on long haul. It carried 620,000 tons of goods all over the world in the holds of its own aircraft and 7 Boeing 747 Combis and three Boeing 747-400F freighters. He celebrated the achievement of the 99 different ceramic houses built by the prestigious Royal Delft.
In 2018 it opened four airports, three in Europe such as Vaxjo, Marseille and Nantes. In the long haul Fortaleza opened. In total there are over 160 airports now served and more than 800 with those of all partners. KLM’s business has an impact of over € 30 billion, over 300 thousand indirect jobs, in addition to the already said over thirty thousand in the Netherlands, the second largest company in the country “.
Schipol, the carrier’s hub in a nation of 17 million people, has enlivened over 71 million passengers in 2018 and is the third most important in Europe. “It is not technically saturated, it has reached the limit set by the local authorities of half a million movements, but in the future it will rise to 540000, it is not known when” so said Elbers. “KLM has four main markets – says Elbers – they are USA, China, Brazil and Canada “. KLM benefits from an important connectivity from various markets thanks to Air France, Delta and in the future from Virgin Atlantic”, which recently the British airline has become part of Blue Sky, the alliance that in addition to the Paris airports, the American ones and in the future London will be a way of further connectivity with more possibilities to reach many markets. In example Brazil is an important market for KLM, 25% of our passengers continue the journeys with partner GOL.
Virgin’s world network comes to mind as well as Caribbean destinations not served by Air France and KLM. Elbers stressed “the opening of Austin for next year and the network shared with Delta is a strategic condition impossible to forget”. The future is also in the hands of technology of sustainability at the level of aircraft that consume less, such as the gap between 1970’s Boeing 747 and today’s Boeing 787. But also the use of bio fuels as it will be today towards the future. In the cargo side the biggest and excellent bulk available on Boeing 777-300ERs are the future change and replace of the today venerable Boeing 747-400s Combi freight today in fleet with 7 jets. The 18/27 tons available on each ships can be compared similar with availability on Boeing 777s
In addition to the electrical technology being developed with research institutes. KLM continue to support with her know how the new possibility of sustainable new airplanes. “We do not build aircraft, but we help them build them with our global operator know-how,” said Elbers. But KLM does not grow only for air transport, Elbers refers as a great company captain and excellent motivator “today and tomorrow is in the hands of our collaborators, at all levels, from high level to low level profile. Everyone is able to keep a company at a high level, from flight personnel to ground personnel, from IT to technicians ”. A winning message deliberately shown by a winning carrier.
All photos by Marco Finelli.