N°81, october 7, 2019
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Gelukkige verjaardag KLM ... Happy Birthdays KLM ... Bon anniversaire KLM !
A century KLM
(source KLM) october 7, 2019 - In 1919, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
was founded. KLM is, therefore, the oldest airline in the world still
operating under its original name (...).
7 October 1919 ‘Royal
Dutch Airlines for the Netherlands and Colonies’
the ‘Royal Dutch Airlines for the Netherlands and Colonies’ as it was
then called. The founders are a group of investors who asked Albert
Plesman to take over the daily supervision of the business. Plesman
would later be named Director of KLM.
17 May 1920 The first
flight of KLM The first KLM flight.
Pilot Jerry Shaw flies the
leased DeHavilland DH-16 from London to Schiphol. On board are two
journalists, a letter from the Mayor of London to his counterpart in
Amsterdam and a stack of newspapers.
1935 The introduction of
cabin crew on board.
The first cabin crew were all male, the
‘Stewards’; shortly after followed a group of ladies, the
‘Stewardesses’. The cabin personnel replaced the on board engineers; up
until that point, alongside their technical duties, the passenger care
was the engineer’s responsibility. The most important task of the cabin
personnel was the safety on board and that is still the case.
May 1946 Amsterdam - New York
The start of the service between
Amsterdam and New York with ‘Rotterdam’ a Douglas DC-4. KLM is the first
airline to connect mainland Europe to America and the service is the
start of KLMs network in the west. The KLM trans-Atlantic network is
still of great importance.
1 April 1958 The introduction of
Although it is a little more basic than Tourist
class, KLM makes every effort to keep the level of service as high as
possible. The new economy class makes air travel more affordable and the
number of passengers increases by 27% in three months.
1960 The introduction of the Jet engine era
The PH-DCA ‘Albert
Plesman’ lands at Schiphol marking the start of the Jet engine era at
KLM. The Douglas DC-8 aircraft has 4 jet engines making the flight time
much shorter and reducing the number of stops required. From this point
on, flights no longer take days, but hours. The new aircraft could fly
to New York in half the time.
28 April 1967 Schiphol Centre as
the new homebase.
from former Station Chief Jan Dellaert, Schiphol was developed so that
aircraft could land in strong winds from all directions.
October 1975 The addition of the first Boeing 747-306B Combi to the fleet
This is the
only aircraft that transports both passengers and cargo. The
possibilities that this aircraft brings increase KLM’s flexibility and
strengthens her position in the market.
Introduction of the loyalty programme
On Mainland Europe, KLM is the
first airline to introduce a loyalty programme for customers, ‘Flying
Dutchman’. This programme is renamed ‘Flying Blue’ in 2005.
March 1994 World Business Class
KLM and Northwest airlines introduce the
‘World Business Class’ a new class aimed at the business traveller on
intercontinental flights. The WBC offers a level of comfort in between
that of economy class and Royal Class.
29 June 1996 The first
KLM flight to Beijing.
This is the first step in a growing number of
destinations within China and a growing collaboration with Chinese
airlines. From this moment China becomes one of the most important
destinations for KLM.
5 May 2004 Foundation of AIR FRANCE-KLM
On this day the fusion on the two
airlines becomes official. 7 months earlier in September 2003, the
airlines decided to combine their strengths.
25 August 2005
Introduction Airbus A330
Airbus deliver the first A330 to KLM.
This aircraft replaces the B767 which is slowly being phased out of the
30 June 2011 The first flight to Paris on BioFuel
2007, together with a number of partners, KLM starts searching for
alternatives for fossil fuel. A number of alternatives are investigated
including BioFuel made from Algae, cameline (a plant), jathropa oil (a
nut) and finally used frying fat. One of the conditions of using this
fuel is that it won't negatively affect the food chain or have any
adverse effects on the environment
KLM is solid as a rock
(source De Telegraaf) october 7, 2019 - The KLM brand is solid as a rock
and can last another hundred years. That is the message from CEO Pieter
Elbers, who, unyielding and with a blue heart, leads the airline. KLM is
the oldest airline which still operates under its original name. “It is
forgotten sometimes, but it is very special what we have here in the
“The company is doing significantly better
than five years ago, we have a higher customer satisfaction rating and a
better financial position. The substantial investments and staff efforts
have borne fruit,” says Elbers. He is glad that the centenary is being
celebrated in good health. “I am enormously proud of that, but you
should always keep looking ahead. Results from the past are no guarantee
for the future.” (...)
Still, environmental pollution has
suddenly become a big topic in aviation. KLM has gotten the message and
gained worldwide attention with a recent call to fly responsibly,
meaning think before you fly. “KLM, and I personally as well, take this
very seriously,” Elbers says when asked. With this initiative in the
area of sustainability KLM is the first in the aviation industry. (...)
The sustainability agenda will become important at KLM in the next
ten years. Elbers points out that changes sometimes need time. “We are
investing in a plant for biofuel, which will only be operational in
2022. We are seriously working on CO2 compensation, we are investing
billions in new aircraft, but we do need to maintain our earning
capacity. That is why I have hope for some room in our network to grow
further. This growth is necessary to maintain our position on the world
stage. The world will not wait for KLM or the Dutch polders. We have to
pull out all the stops and grab our chances,” says Elbers. (...)
“We have been able to operate with passion and to pioneer for a hundred
years, so I have full confidence that there is enough knowledge and
expertise to continue that. We are not entitled to something, we have to
earn it. Every day again.”
Peter Hartman: ‘Without Air France, KLM would have been considerably smaller’
(source Zakenreis Magazine) april 21, 2019 - Between April 2007 and July 2013
Hartman was the highest in command at the airline. (...)
From the beginning, you were involved as a board member in the
negotiations with Air France. What were the considerations regarding a
potential collaboration with the French?
“At the start of this
century, KLM wasn’t in a good place, with a shortage of cash and a
shrinking network. (...)
With the British their motto was: Our way is
the right one. The manner in which British Airways wanted to shuffle the two
companies together, meant that KLM would become a feeder to London. In
all likelihood we would have lost the brand name KLM very quickly. (...)
Lufthansa also wasn’t an option, because that cooperation would not
be approved by the European Commission as we would have too much
domination within our region. (...)
Then Air France came into view. The
attitude of the French was much more comfortable. They were
chauvinistic, but in a very different way than the British, who were
flat-out arrogant. Jean-Cyril Spinetta, the CEO of Air France at the
time, didn’t force us to do things his way. ‘We’re going to do it both
of our ways, then you’re strong both ways,’ he said. Spinetta was a
sensible visionary. He was, in part due to his personality, also always
willing to listen to us. So a holding was founded, with two subsidiaries
and three divisions under that: passengers, cargo and technical
Spinetta said during the negotiations: ‘I want the four
of us to continue.’ He meant himself, his COO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, Leo
van Wijk and myself. He knew very well that at a moment like that,
headhunters are at the ready to take you away. Spinetta insisted on
continuity and commitment. ‘I’m counting on you,’ he said. He wanted the
guarantee that we would make the first big steps together. And that’s
what happened.” . (...)
Did the French call the shots after 2004?
“People who know me, know that I’m not the type to let that happen.
And it didn’t happen. Of course we had heated discussions, but not via
the media. In our top team with Jean-Cyril Spinetta, we had sufficient
opportunities to carry out our joint strategy. The interests of both
airlines and hubs were always considered in this. The current idea in
the Netherlands that Air France-KLM was only governed by the French is
wrong. From the beginning, Dutch people, so from KLM, have always been
involved in discussions and decisions in Paris, at the highest level.
Look at Michael Wisbrun, who did cargo for Air France-KLM, and Pieter
Bootsma, who is still responsible for the network of the whole group,
among other things, including alliances. Also with the maintenance
division a lot has been accomplished. Ton Dortmans played an important
role there. And let’s not forget Frédéric Gagey, who is now CFO of the
group, but held the same position for many years as KLM’s financial
Van Wijk, and later I myself, were vice chairman of the group and in
this position, we got enough room to contribute. If you had a good
business plan, you could always convince Air France. (...) Of course the
chauvinism sometimes came out, on both sides. (...) During this period, we managed to increase KLM’s
revenue from EUR 6 billion to EUR 10 billion. KLM always did better than
Air France when it came to profitability and all based on a dual brand
In what way did KLM benefit from the merger?
“KLM has been able to expand for all those years thanks to Air
France – not despite. KLM has gained an incredible number of long-haul
destinations, also destinations we would have had to give up as an
independent carrier. We were able to retain our brand and now KLM is
able to reach its centennial under its own name this year. That’s a huge
The Dutch contribution at shareholder level was very small after the
merger. Didn’t that worry you?
“Yes, it did. That’s why in 2012,
I looked at a joint stake in Air France-KLM with a large group of
private investors. (...)
I initially took the plan to the then Finance minister Jan Kees de
Jager, to ask him what he thought about it. (...)
within the group, for
financing large investments. And what could they have against private
Dutch investors? It was better than the Brits, who also did a lot of
investing at the time.
what happened? The cabinet fell. A new government was formed, Rutte II,
with Jeroen Dijsselbloem as minister of Finance. So I went to minster
Dijsselbloem, but he clearly wasn’t up for it. Then the whole plan
disappeared into a desk drawer. A missed opportunity.”
Until recently anyway, because now there is a large Dutch stake, of
“The situation is completely different now, because it was the Dutch
government that bought shares and not private investors. The Dutch
government says that the position of Schiphol would be in danger if no
investment was made in the holding. I don’t understand that argument.
Schiphol’s position has only become stronger since the merger of KLM and
Air France. More than 70% of the activities comes from the Air
France-KLM group with its SkyTeam partners.”
I thought Dutch
shareholders were very necessary, but private ones, not the government.
As the Dutch government, you can’t urge the French government to get out
of Air France-KLM, and then secretly purchase a stake yourself. (...)
The Dutch government says that they weren’t being involved enough in
important decisions for Air France-KLM. For example, the cabinet wasn’t
consulted about the strategic collaboration with Delta Air Lines and
China Eastern Airlines in 2017.
“Maybe not consulted, but I do think
the government knew about it. At the time, there were four Dutch
representatives on the board, one of which on behalf of the Dutch
government, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. Even I knew about those plans, even
though I was less involved in them. After all, I left the board of Air
France-KLM in May 2017.”. (...)
When it comes to the whole Air France-KLM dossier, I think a kind of
Brexit emotion has arisen in the Netherlands. Half-truths have been told
in the media, which were very anti-French. The complete picture was
hardly shown anywhere anymore, I missed the nuance. It’s a pity that
it’s been taken out of context so much sometimes. Our French colleagues,
but definitely also our KLM colleagues at group level, absolutely didn’t
deserve this. Hopefully, the new supervisory board of KLM will bring
back the peace. The enemy is outside, not within the group. I’d like to
conclude by saying: count your blessings once in a while. We have a
strong group with strong partners. We can be proud of that.” . (...)
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