KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (Amsterdam) this morning (October 26) operated the last regularly scheduled revenue flight from Montreal (Trudeau) to the Amsterdam hub. As previously reported, KLM will also operate special “Farewell Flights” of the last MD-11 on November 11. The airline issued this statement and historic photos:
This morning (October 26), KLM Royal Dutch Airlines welcomed its last McDonnell Douglas MD-11 passenger flight – KL 672 – at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The flight operated by McDonnell Douglas MD-11 PH-KCE (msn 48559) named after the late actress Audrey Hepburn (above), arrived from Montreal, not only marks the end of KLM’s MD-11 operations worldwide, but also the end of a remarkable era in civil aviation. The partnership between KLM and aircraft manufacturer (McDonnell) Douglas lasted more than 80 years, which is truly unique.
Many MD-11 fans had bought a ticket to be aboard KLM’s very last scheduled service with the MD-11, which is popular among many travellers and aircraft photographers. In recent months, many fans also booked tickets on routes where KLM deployed the MD-11, even if it meant a longer journey.
With a welcoming shower (above), KLM gave a worthy farewell to this aircraft, which had been in service for 21 years. KLM has in recent years invested in a modern, economical and sustainable fleet, in which there was no room for the MD-11. The aircraft, with its characteristic third engine in the tail, had become expensive to maintain and has relatively high fuel consumption. Spare parts are hard to come by and it is no longer feasible to maintain stocks.
From October 2015, KLM will begin welcoming the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to its fleet. Air France-KLM has ordered 25 of these aircraft, the first of which is scheduled for delivery in October 2015. The Boeing Dreamliner can carry 276 passengers, burns 15% less fuel than its predecessor, and has lower noise impact and CO2 emissions. This coincides with KLM’s pledge to contribute to a more sustainable air transport industry. Until the new aircraft arrive, KLM will deploy its Airbus A330s and Boeing 777s to replace the MD-11.
KLM and Air France will operate 73 next generation aircraft through 2024: 43 Airbus A350-900s and 30 Boeing 787-9s. The first aircraft Boeing 787-9 will enter into service with KLM in 2016 and the first Airbus A350-900 with Air France in 2018. Later, both airlines will operate both types of aircraft.
The Airbus A350-900 will be equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, the only engine provided for this aircraft by the manufacturer.
These new aircraft will reduce fuel consumption by over 15% and will give rise to a significant reduction in noise and gas emissions, confirming the Group’s commitments in terms of environment and sustainable development.
Farewell Flights on November 11
A series of MD-11 Farwell Flights will be operated on November 11, 2014. KLM has organized three special roundtrips over the Netherlands, giving fans a last chance to enjoy their favorite jetliner. Unfortunately, the tickets for these flights are sold out, but MD-11 aficionados do stand a chance of winning two last tickets in the social media campaign Bye-Bye MD-11, which will be on until Thursday, October 30.
Read more about the MD-11 and KLM’s partnership with (McDonnell) Douglas from the KLM blog:
Today – Sunday, October 26 – KLM’s last commercial flight with an MD-11 touched down at Schiphol. A fond farewell, that will be festively repeated in November, with three roundtrips over the Netherlands for fans of this popular jetliner.
The first MD-11
KLM’s first MD-11 landed at Schiphol in 1993 – on December 10 at 11.00, to be exact. It was stormy, with gusting gale-force winds causing delays at Schiphol. The PH-KCA “Amy Johnson” landed safely at the airport and entered commercial service on January 24, 1994, flying to Lagos. KLM had ordered ten MD-11s and took out options for ten more, which it eventually never used.
The arrival of the MD-11 got extensive coverage in the KLM staff magazine Wolkenridder. The new addition to the fleet was praised for its functional flexibility, which was considered a must, because developments in the airline industry were much the same as they are today. As the Wolkenridder put it: “The current challenges in the global airline industry are not so much caused by a decline in demand, but primarily by declining fares, a trend brought on by fierce competition and customer expectations.”
The problem solver
The fact that the MD-11 cabin was relatively easy to reconfigure was seen as an option to swiftly respond to seasonal fluctuations and changing market circumstances. The cabin could be simply converted from full passenger to combi or full freighter, or it could prepared for a single-class charter flight. In short, the MD-11 was a problem solver, but also a plane that attracted lots of fans. Many pilots and plane spotters have sung the praises of the MD-11’s characteristic features and idiosyncrasies, and many of them will greet its departure with heavy hearts.
A worthy send-off
We’ll be giving the MD-11 a worthy send-off, but will also be marking the end of an 80-year partnership between KLM and Douglas, and later McDonnell Douglas. KLM is the only airline to have operated all of the series-built DC types ever produced by this manufacturer. It began with the DC-2 in 1934 (below), which KLM operated until 1946. In fact, KLM’s legendary PH-AJU “Uiver” (Stork), which won the handicap section of the London to Melbourne Race in 1934, was a DC-2.
The arrival of the DC-8 in 1960 marked the start of the jet age for KLM.
An important step forward that made air transport accessible to a much larger group of people. The predecessor of the MD-11 was the DC-10, which first joined the KLM fleet in 1972. In the late 1990s, McDonnell-Douglas was taken over by Boeing, and production of the MD-11 was stopped in 2000, after 200 of these aircraft had rolled off the line. Nowadays, spare parts are hard to come by, which makes maintenance costly. Technological innovations have also overtaken the MD-11. This month, KLM will be the last airline in the world to operate a passenger flight with the MD-11, a true honour for such a faithful customer of this legendary aircraft manufacturer.
All images above by KLM.
Message to all airlines: If you are retiring a long-standing aircraft type, make a big deal about it. Cherish and honor your colorful history. Honor the past via your employees who lived the history. Operate a nostalgic “last flight” and you will fill up the seats. This new type of flight makes money! It is a growing trend to honor the past with nostalgic “last flights”. Just ask KLM, they filled all of their seats of their two special flights on November 11. After November 11 you will not be able to fly on a passenger MD-11. Thank you KLM – Donald Douglas would be proud.
KLM Aircraft Slide Show:
MD-11 Slide Show:
Bottom Copyright Photo: Ton Jochems/AirlinersGallery.com. PH-KCE was also the first KLM aircraft to wear the special “95 Years” emblem.