KLM said its network to Asia and the Middle East will be “virtually identical” this summer compared to 2019, though some routes will be flown with fewer frequencies as Europe continues to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.
Amsterdam (AMS)-Riyadh, Sadia Arabia (RUH) will be a completely new route flown by KLM this summer, and the airline said it will open a 4X-weekly AMS-Phuket, Thailand (HKT) route this winter.
“As more and more countries are reopening their borders, KLM is anticipating a cautious re-emergence of customer demand for destinations in Asia and the Middle East,” the airline said in a statement.
KLM plans to fly to 17 destinations in Asia this summer, which will be slightly down from the 19 Asian destinations operated to in summer 2019. Xiamen, China (XMN) will remain “temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Additionally, Bali, Indonesia (DPS) flights will not return for the time being.
Flights from AMS to Hangzhou (HGH) and Shanghai (PVG) in China will continue to be operated with a stopover in Seoul (ICN). Service to Bengaluru, India (BLR), first launched in winter 2019, also remains suspended.
KLM will fly to seven Middle East destinations this summer—the same number as in summer 2019. AMS-RUH flights will operate 2X-weekly this summer, rising to 3X-weekly in the winter. Service to Abu Dhabi (AUH) has been suspended indefinitely, although KLM offers a codeshare with Etihad Airways on AMS-RUH flights.
“The expectation is that Abu Dhabi will be reintroduced as a destination in winter 2021, thereby increasing the number of [KML Middle East] destinations to eight,” KLM said.
KLM president and CEO Pieter Elbers commented: “It is a positive sign that the number of destinations in the Middle and [Asia] has nearly returned to its previous level. As a result, customers can once again rely on KLM’s extensive network, as they were accustomed to doing. While this is a step in the right direction, we aren’t there yet. Vaccinations are the key to the recovery of the aviation sector. After that, an internationally valid vaccination passport will play a crucial role in restoring our [passengers’] mobility.”
Photo credit: Joe Pries