Wednesday, November 30 2022


KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has reached an important milestone by becoming the oldest airline in the world operating under its original name for an industry known for its unpredictable economic cycle and financial instability. KLM (Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij) is the flag carrier of the Netherlands with over 100 years of service and enviable brand recognition around the world. This article covers everything you need to know about the oldest airline, KLM Royal Dutch. Let’s dive into it.


History of KLM Airlines

KLM Dutch Airlines is the flagship airline of the Netherlands, operating as part of the Air France-KLM group. Based in Amstelveen, KLM Royal operates scheduled passenger and cargo services through its hub at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to more than 140 destinations. It has been a member of the SkyTeam alliance since September 13, 2004 and offers flights to more than 800 destinations through codeshare agreements.

KLM Airlines has its roots in 1919 when a group of Dutch businessmen founded the carrier as one of the first commercial airlines. Little did they know that KLM would become such an iconic brand that would touch the lives of millions and mark 100 glorious years of global operations.

Read also : IndiGo A320 and KLM Dreamliner; a narrow escape from the in-flight disaster probe

Founded on October 7, 1919, the fledgling company launched its maiden flight on May 17, 1920, using the De Havilland DH-16 from London to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. The Dutch airline launched its long-haul operations with its first intercontinental flight to Batavia (now Jakarta, Indonesia) in 1924. From the heroic early years of aviation to the cutting-edge technological era, KLM Royal has covered a long way and is still becoming the largest and most reliable airline in the world.



Milestones in KLM’s recent history

The century-old history of KLM Dutch Airline has been marked by several milestones, such as:

  • Creation of a strategic partnership with Northwest Airlines in the early 1990s
  • Equity stake in Kenya Airlines in 1996
  • Air UK as a wholly owned subsidiary of KML in July 1997
  • Air France-KLM merger in 2004

Air France-KLM is Europe’s largest airline group consisting of two separate airlines – KML and Air France, competing for market share with European giants like Lufthansa Group, IAG and various other carriers. The Air France-KLM group has 548 aircraft to transport more than 77 million passengers per year (Air France and KLM combined). Although KLM Dutch Airlines is a subsidiary of an Air France-KLM holding company, it retains its brand, trade name and identity. As such, it seems appropriate that KLM claims continued operation under its original name.

KLM routes

The Dutch flag carrier KLM Royal Airlines and its partners serve an extensive network of more than 150 destinations in 70 countries on five continents of the world. KLM flights are mainly operated by Boeing jets, as the carrier has nearly 100 Boeing aircraft.

KLM international flights to Canada serve the destinations of Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. On the other hand, KLM flights to the United States serve the cities of Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, New York, San Francisco, Salt Lake City and Washington DC.

In Europe, KLM Dutch Airlines is present in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, etc. KLM flights have strengthened their presence in Asia, namely China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand. KML international flights to China are crucial for the national carrier due to the country’s huge volume of air traffic. KLM Airlines first flew to Beijing on June 29, 1996 and currently flies to a handful of new Chinese destinations, namely Chengdu, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Xiamen.

KLM UK was the subsidiary of KLM Royal Dutch, founded in 1998 to operate services within the UK and from there to mainland Europe. Based at London Stansted Airport, this UK subsidiary of KLM used to deploy ATR-72, Fokker 50 and Fokker 100 aircraft for its operations until its merger with KLM Cityhopper in 2003.

Today, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has created a significant customer base in the UK with diversified flights at iconic global hubs such as London Heathrow Airport, Manchester Airport, London City Airport, Birmingham airport etc. KLM Dutch offers convenient flights to major cities in the UK including Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Durham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Norwich and Southampton.

Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST), Ankara Esenboa Airport (ESB), Gaziantep Ouzeli International Airport (GZT) and others Turkish airports are all served regularly by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. You can find several Istanbul airport hotels. One of the largest airport hotels in the world is the Istanbul Airport Hotel.

KLM fleet

The KLM Airlines fleet is dominated by Boeing jets with 46 B737s, 31 B777s and 18 B787 Dreamliners. KLM’s Boeing 737 fleet has an overall average age of 15 years and consists of 10 737-700s, 31 737-800s and 5 737-900s. These flying birds are named after real birds like Eagle, Hawk, Goose, Swift, Flamingo, Redwing, Owl, Robin, etc., and spread their wings to destinations in Europe.

The Boeing 777 widebody fleet has an average age of 12.5 years and consists of 15 777-200ERs and 16 777-300ERs. KLM’s Boeing 777-300ERs are named after national parks such as De Hoge Veluwe National Park, Kaziranga National Park, etc., and serve KLM routes from Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, Singapore, Denpasar, Tokyo and others.

Photo by Manuel Bruins; Royal Dutch KLM

The state-of-the-art Dreamliners are the core aircraft and workhorses of the KLM fleet, averaging 4.5 years old. KLM travelers can fly Boeing 787-9s on long-haul routes to Delhi, Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro, Salt Lake City, Bogota or Cartagena. KLM Dreamliners have two cabin classes: Economy Class and Business Class in 3-3-3 and 1-2-1 configurations, respectively. These technological marvels are the backbone of KLM’s long-haul flights, as they can travel up to 8,500 nautical miles with minimal impact on the environment. KLM Dreamliners are all named after flowers and are indeed the most beautiful sights for aviation enthusiasts.

Besides Boeing jets, KLM has a handful of European-made Airbus planes in its fleet. The carrier operates 11 Airbus A330s to a diverse range of long-haul destinations spanning North America, the Middle East and West Africa.

KLM Flying Blue

Flying in the wild blue there is further possible with KLM’s Flying Blue loyalty program, which rewards you with mileage points based on distance flown, ticket price and a class of service. You can get free membership in the KLM Flying Blue program and earn experience points (XP) and award miles when you fly. Make good use of the Miles you’ve earned by redeeming them for free tickets, seat class upgrades, additional baggage allowance, onboard Wi-Fi, lounge access, and more. Miles are not limited to KLM plane tickets; they can be obtained from all other SkyTeam partners.

Thanks to a wide range of partners, KLM customers can access more benefits even when they are not travelling. You will be rewarded when you book hotel nights, rent a car and shop with KLM partners.

Flying Blue is also Air France’s frequent flyer program as part of the Air France-KLM group, and membership level is divided into four categories; Explorer, Silver, Gold and Platinum, depending on the number of experience points earned.

Is KLM part of Star Alliance?

No, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is not part of Star Alliance. Yet it is a member airline of SkyTeam – the second largest airline alliance, which includes Air France, Delta Air Lines, Alitalia, Korean Air, CSA Czech Airlines, etc. As a member of SkyTeam, it joins forces with other partner airlines to offer its customers convenient flight schedules with seamless connections to 1,036 destinations worldwide. All Flying Blue members will receive their usual benefits when traveling on any SkyTeam partner airline.

KLM - aviationnepal
Source:; Royal Dutch KLM

Subsidiaries of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

KLM Dutch Airlines has a 100% stake in several companies, such as KLM Cityhopper, KLM Asia, Transavia Airlines, Martinair and Cygnific. KLM Cityhopper is the regional airline’s subsidiary that provides scheduled European connection services to more than 60 destinations on behalf of KML. It was founded on April 1, 1991 and is headquartered in Haarlemmermeer, North Holland. It uses a fleet of Embraer E175, Embraer E190 and Embraer E195-E2 to operate KLM’s intra-European route networks.

Read also : The world’s first in-flight draft beer service at KLM

KLM Cargo services

Not only does KLM specialize in passenger operations, but it also prioritizes cargo transportation. In cooperation with KLM and Air France, Martinair operates scheduled and charter cargo flights from its hub at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. KLM has a cargo fleet of one Boeing 747-400BCF and three Boeing 747-400ERFs to operate freighter services to more than 15 destinations worldwide.

Is KLM a good airline?

KLM Royal Dutch Airline is a 4-star carrier certified by Skytrax in light of its on-board product, airport quality, cabin crew hospitality, etc. -a year-old story, but each time it has come back stronger as it weathers storms and headwinds. With a rich history, solid reputation, valuable experience and diverse destinations, KLM will continue to shine and grace the global skies for years to come.

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