KLM’s traffic drops 54% in March, fleet is parked at AMS

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines made this announcement:

The impact of the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus worldwide is strongly reflected in our traffic figures for March – countries increasingly shut down their airspace and passengers stopped travelling. The number of cancelled flights grew as the month progressed and, ultimately, operations in the closing days of March shrank to only ±15% of the levels achieved last year. This effectively halved (-54%) KLM’s passenger numbers across the network in comparison with the same month last year.

In comparison with March 2019, passenger load factor fell by 22% points against a drop in traffic of -49% (expressed in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) and a -32% reduction in seat capacity (expressed in available seat kilometres or ASKs). At -61.3%, the fall in passenger numbers was the most significant for destinations in Asia, followed by a -57.4% dip for destinations in Europe and North Africa. Cargo load factor fell by 0.2% points. This resulted from a combination of a -24.5% capacity reduction and a -24.7% decline in cargo traffic. The capacity reduction can be largely attributed to the drop in belly capacity due to flight cancellations.

KLM started the summer schedule on April 1 operating around 10% of its flights in comparison with the figures for last year. All operations have been suspended for Transavia. In the forthcoming period, an assessment will take place to determine the network’s further development based on circumstances as they unfold.

“The coronavirus pandemic is having a massive impact on the KLM Group. Within a very short space of time, we have literally had to park almost everything – and this embraces a workforce of around 30,000 people, 700 flights a day, and brilliantly oiled operations serving customers worldwide. The global economic impact of Covid-19 is enormous and it is unclear when KLM’s worldwide network will again be operating at its previous levels. Either way, it’s clear that it will take a great deal of time for the markets – and therefore KLM and Transavia – to recover. KLM will therefore be operating from its home base in the Netherlands for the time being, on the basis of an adjusted network. Numerous measures are being adopted for us to navigate through these trying times as best we can.”

KLM President & CEO Pieter Elbers

COVID-19: Flying with KLM – ‘Social distancing’ and other measures on board

Flight and aircraft handling are regarded as vital processes by the government. This means that the government believes that aviation is essential to society and that the continuity of a flight operation is therefore a priority. The guidelines for events and gathering therefore do not apply to aviation.

For airlines, flying during the corona crisis means that they have to operate under exceptional circumstances. The current situation calls for a series of measures that KLM implements in order to carry out its operation as safely as possible for passengers and crew. These measures are in line with information and instructions from the WHO, RIVM and GGD and KLM’s own health and safety services.

The most important measures are listed below.

Seat Blocking

Wherever possible, KLM works on the basis of the general guideline of the ‘social distance’ of 1.5 meters. In practice, this means that when the occupancy of an aircraft is low – which is now more common – as much space as possible is created around the passenger by keeping seats empty. On repatriation flights to Amsterdam, however, seat blocking may not be possible. In this case, returning as many Dutch nationals home as possible has the highest priority.

Service on board

One of the most important principles to ensure the safety of passengers and our crew is to minimize the contact moments between crew and passengers. This has an impact on onboard service. The offer of catering has therefore been simplified.

Hygiene on board

On board, the crew wears mouth caps and protective gloves. There is extra hygiene equipment on board, such as hand sanitizers, and on every flight a toilet is kept free exclusively for the crew. This gives them unrestricted access to a place where they can look after themselves and wash their hands. KLM’s aircrafts are additionally cleaned using suitable cleaning agents. The air on board the aircraft is drier and is rapidly refreshed along highly efficient filters to filter the air of potentially harmful particles and viruses.

Before and after boarding the plane

Safe travel is not only given the highest priority on board. Before and after boarding, a mix of measures is also in place at Schiphol. These include communication about ‘social distance’ at check-in, gates, service and transfer desks. The public can only pay for a number of services by debit card or creditcard. Custom boarding processes have also been set up, such as boarding in smaller groups. KLM also conducts passenger screenings on a number of flights.

About passenger screening

Several countries have recently imposed measures on airlines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. These require all passengers to undergo a health check before boarding. For flights departing from Amsterdam to Canada, Singapore and South Korea, passengers are physically observed. Passengers flying to the last two destinations receive an additional temperature check. This is done at Schiphol by KLM ground staff in collaboration with KLM Health Services and Airport Medical Services staff. As of 8 April, KLM will provide passengers departing from New York JFK to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol with a health screening form. This will take place on the instructions of the Dutch government. On the basis of the answers, a passenger may be denied boarding by KLM on the orders of the Dutch government.

Large part of KLM fleet parked at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

As a result of the coronavirus crisis, KLM keeps a large number of its aircraft on the ground from the start of the summer season. In addition to a few destinations in the network, repatriation flights are currently being carried out. The aircraft that do not fly are parked at Schiphol.

In order to keep the aircraft airworthy during this period, KLM is carrying out an active parking program. In this way, KLM ensures that the aircraft are well protected from the weather during this period. In addition, the program enables KLM to quickly deploy the aircraft when the weather permits. Periodic inspections are carried out throughout the entire parking period. KLM works well together with Schiphol in order to use the available time and space as efficiently as possible. In total, more than 200 aircraft of various airlines will eventually be parked at Schiphol, more than 100 of which will be KLM and KLC.

With regard to the large aircraft, the entire A330 fleet (13), the entire Boeing 777-200 fleet (15) and the remaining 747s (7) will be parked at Schiphol.

The smaller aircraft, all Embraer 175s (17), a large number of Embraer 190s (15) and a large number of Boeing 737s (34) are also parked at Schiphol.

The destinations KLM still flies to and the repatriation flights are flown with the remaining aircraft: the Boeing 777-300s, the Boeing 787-9 and -10 fleet, the remaining Embraer 190s and the remaining Boeing 737s.

All photos by KLM.