KLM expands at Aberdeen

The airline with the longest name in aviation, Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij, better known as the Dutch carrier, KLM, has announced plans to increase the frequency of flights from Aberdeen to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to five per week.

KLM, founded in 1919, is the national airline of the Netherlands. The carrier merged with AirFrance in 2004, forming one of the largest aviation companies in the world, the unimaginatively titled, AirFrance KLM. The two airlines combined transport an average 71m passengers a year.

Henri Hourcade, UK boss at Air-France KLM, indicated that the cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow Airport was in part responsible for the airline’s decision to expand in Scotland. Henri said that KLM “will be there to answer the needs” of the country, presumably by offering Schiphol as a viable alternative to Heathrow.

The London hub is currently the airport of choice for Scottish travellers catching long-haul flights to the Middle East and the USA. Scotland’s many oil and gas workers, for example, frequently fly from Aberdeen to Heathrow using budget airline, BMI, before catching either a British Airways or second BMI flight to Tripoli, Libya.

However, according to KLM bosses, an increasing number of the airline’s customers (approaching 60%) are choosing to connect with distant destinations via Amsterdam Schiphol, rather than its London rival. The news is indeed dire for Heathrow, but if KLM’s claims are true, Aberdeen Airport could soon operate as a gateway to the continent, helping the hub’s new boss, Derek Provan, achieve his dream of a runway extension within the next two years.

Alterations to KLM’s Aberdeen-Amsterdam route should come into effect in April 2011. The change will coincide with similar expansions at Edinburgh and Glasgow airports, which will see the frequency of flights to the Dutch capital increased to six and five rotations a week, respectively.

Rumours that KLM will soon rope Inverness Airport into its Holland-Scotland flight network have not yet been confirmed.

Budget airlines, Flybe and Thomas Cook, have also expanded at Aberdeen in recent weeks. Flybe has "significantly increased" capacity on its route from the Scottish hub to Birmingham, whilst Thomas Cook is to offer more flights to Dalaman, Turkey, from May 2011.

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