KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

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KLM Royal Dutch Airlines NV
KLM logo
Boeing 777-300ER of KLM
IATA code : KL
ICAO code : KLM
Call sign : KLM
Founding: October 7, 1919
Seat: Amstelveen , Netherlands
Turnstile :

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Home airport : Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
Company form: NV
IATA prefix code : 074
Management: Pieter Elbers
Number of employees: 31,876
Sales: 9.8 billion (2016)
Passenger volume: 32.7 million (2017)
Alliance : SkyTeam
Frequent Flyer Program : Flying Blue
Fleet size: 112 (+ 12 orders)
Aims: international
Website: www.klm.com

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines ( Dutch Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij , KLM for short ; German  "Royal Airline " ) is the national airline of the Netherlands and the oldest still existing airline in the world. The airline, based in Amstelveen and based at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, is a member of the SkyTeam aviation alliance and forms the umbrella company Air France-KLM with Air France .


Foundation and first years

The Royal Dutch Aviation Commission, formed in 1918, dealt with the possibilities of using air transport after the end of the First World War . The pilot and businessman Albert Plesman submitted to this commission the proposal for an aviation exhibition, which was organized in 1918 under the name ELTA (Eerste Luchtverkeer Tentoonstelling Amsterdam, in German: First Air Transport Exhibition Amsterdam). Inspired by the exhibition, the Aviation Commission came up with the idea of ​​creating a national airline.

KLM was founded on October 7, 1919. Albert Plesman, who is considered one of the fathers of KLM and thus also of Dutch aviation, was elected as chairman. The second “father” was the aircraft manufacturer Anthony Fokker , who provided the technical know-how and designed tailor-made aircraft for KLM. The capital was provided by various Dutch business people. When it was founded, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands also gave the society the title “koninklijk”. This makes KLM the oldest airline in the world still in existence.

On May 17, 1920 the first flight with an Airco DH16 took place. It ran from London to Amsterdam and had two British journalists as passengers and some English newspapers as cargo on board. Initially, the company did not have its own aircraft, these were provided by the British company Aircraft Transport & Travel . However, the company soon got its own machines, which came from Fokker .

As a state airline , KLM was given the task of building up air traffic to the colony of the Dutch East Indies , today's Indonesia . The first flights from Amsterdam to Batavia (now Jakarta ) began in 1927 . From 1930 the flights were regularly carried out as a scheduled service and so the connection Amsterdam-Batavia became the longest flight connection in the world at the time.

Orders from Douglas

The "Uiver" shortly after the air race in Surabaya on November 7, 1934

In 1934, KLM caused a stir in many ways. For the first time, the company decided against a Fokker product and, to the annoyance of the co-founder, ordered the Douglas DC-2 . Although these aircraft were assembled by Fokker, Fokker left the company a short time later. KLM was the European launch customer for both the DC-2 and the successor DC-3 . This marked the beginning of a decades-long business relationship between KLM and the Californian manufacturer. KLM became the only company that operated all aircraft from the DC series (except the DC-1, which was only built as a prototype ) from the DC-2 to the MD-11 , even the DC-5 , which was only built in a few copies .

The DC-2 proved to be very popular and quickly replaced the Fokker machines on the Batavia route. In October 1934, KLM took part in one of these aircraft in the MacRobertson air race between Mildenhall, England, and Melbourne , Australia . Under the command of Koene Dirk Parmentier , the DC-2 with the baptismal name “Uiver” (old Dutch for stork ) won the handicap and second place in the speed classification. In addition, the company took up flights across the Atlantic to Curaçao and Paramaribo with a Fokker XVIII .

KLM in World War II

Douglas DC-3 of KLM in orange painting from the Aviodrom Museum

The Netherlands tried to remain neutral after the start of World War II in September 1939. The KLM aircraft were painted a bright orange for better recognition. After the invasion of the Netherlands by the Wehrmacht in May 1940, KLM introduced the traffic from Amsterdam-Schiphol one; few machines could still be transferred to England. KLM continued its flights in the Dutch East Indies and the Caribbean and was commissioned by the British government to maintain connections from Bristol in England to Lisbon and Gibraltar during the war years .

Many aircraft, including some Douglas DC-2 and DC-3 , were captured by the Wehrmacht and supplied to both the Luftwaffe and Lufthansa . A KLM DC-2 was even one of the last aircraft operated by pre-war Lufthansa and remained in service in Scandinavia until the last day of the war .

post war period

KLM's Lockheed Super Constellation in 1954

After the war the Dutch government made an amount of 23 million guilders available for the purchase of a new fleet. The backbone for intra-European traffic was again the DC-3. For the long-haul routes, former DC-4 / C-54 military transporters were converted for civilian use. On May 21, 1946, KLM became the first airline to return to New York from mainland Europe. In 1947, Lockheed Constellation aircraft were purchased, with KLM once again appearing as a European launch customer. Nevertheless, she also ordered the Douglas DC-6 and DC-7 again . In 1955, KLM acquired a 49 percent stake in Air Ceylon , which subsequently leased Constellation and Lockheed L-188 Electra from KLM . The first jet aircraft followed in 1960 , a Douglas DC-8 . In the 1960s, the DC-9 displaced piston engine machines even on short journeys.

Use of wide-bodied aircraft from 1970

KLM's Douglas DC-8-32 in 1963

The age of widebody aircraft was heralded in 1971 with the first Boeing 747 . This time, KLM was even the global launch customer for the improved version 747-200B. This aircraft was also supplemented by a product from McDonnell Douglas , with KLM becoming the first customer for the passenger version of the long-haul aircraft DC-10-30 . Partnerships with other operators of the DC-10 and the 747 have been established for the maintenance of the new wide-body aircraft and the training of personnel for these machines. This resulted in the KSSU Group , consisting of KLM, SAS , Swissair and the French UTA . With the arrival of the DC-10 in 1972, a new color scheme was introduced, which, with a slight revision in 2004, still adorns KLM aircraft today.

During this time, KLM also provided a lot of development aid . The company helped establish the international airlines of Indonesia ( Garuda Indonesia ), the Philippines ( Philippine Airlines ) and Venezuela ( VIASA ). The backbone of the long-haul fleet of these airlines was initially leased DC-8 and DC-10 from KLM.

1980s and 1990s

Airbus A310-200 in 1984

In 1988 KLM signed an agreement with Northwest Airlines , which is the longest existing transatlantic aviation alliance. For several years KLM was also involved in Northwest Airlines. Shortly thereafter, the company became the first customer for the Combi version of the new Boeing 747-400, after partner Northwest appeared as the first customer for the passenger version.

In 1991, due to a lack of demand, KLM removed First Class on the DC-10 machines that served the routes between Amsterdam and the Caribbean. An increase in efficiency on these routes later led to First Class being removed from all KLM flights. KLM was thus one of the few international airlines that only offered two classes of transport on their flights.

A short-term partnership with Alitalia in 1998 ended two years later with a lawsuit and a counterclaim, with KLM being obliged to pay the Italian state-owned airline 150 million in 2002 . Today both airlines are partners within the SkyTeam again .

For the time being, the last time, KLM became the European launch customer of the Boeing 737-900 .

Development since 2000

McDonnell Douglas MD-11 in 2011
KLM headquarters in Amstelveen

In May 2004 Air France took over KLM via a share swap. After the merger to form Air France-KLM in June 2004, both airlines operated independently of one another under the umbrella of a joint holding company until 2008 . The merger was only approved subject to conditions. The companies had to give up various slots at their home airports Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam and reduce the frequencies on some routes. Although the new company is dominated by Air France, KLM is still allowed to use the title "koninklijk" (royal). This dominance of Air France, which holds 81% of the shares in the new holding company, has long been a topic of discussion in the Netherlands. Together, Air France-KLM is the fourth largest airline in the world in terms of passenger kilometers and the second largest in Europe. In 2007, Air France-KLM took first place worldwide in terms of turnover . On December 8, 2004, the French government decided to reduce its equity stake from the current 44.1 percent to 18.35 percent.

As part of the merger KLM occurred just as the long-time US partner Northwest Airlines in September 2004, the airline alliance SkyTeam with. This also brought in partnerships with other airlines, including Continental Airlines , which in summer 2008 decided to work closely with United Airlines and to switch to the Star Alliance . Further partnerships exist with Kenya Airways (Kenya), Martinair and Transavia (both Netherlands). KLM holds shares in the last three companies and, in the case of Transavia (100%), is even the majority owner. KLM also had a partnership with Air Exel , which was now called KLM Exel.

On October 25, 2014, KLM was the last operator in the world to retire the passenger version of the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 on a flight from Montréal to Amsterdam . After that, an MD-11 was used as a hotel at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in a short advertising campaign .

The first Boeing 787-9 was delivered to KLM on November 14, 2015 . It is part of an Air France-KLM order , which also includes 787-10.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated flight restrictions, all Boeing 747-400s were finally decommissioned at KLM in March 2020.

The airline KLM receives a support package of 3.4 billion euros from the Dutch government. This consists of a loan of one billion and 2.4 billion euros guarantees for bank loans. The government is demanding that the airline cut its costs by 15%, become more sustainable and reduce night flights. This package aims to secure the employment of 30,000 people. The EU Commission has yet to approve the rescue package.


Countries served by KLM (December 2015)

KLM operates flights from Amsterdam to destinations in Africa , Asia , Europe , North , Central and South America, and the Middle East .

In Germany there are flights to Nuremberg , Berlin-Tegel , Stuttgart , Dresden , Dusseldorf , Frankfurt am Main , Hamburg , Munich , Hanover , Bremen , in Austria Vienna and Graz and in Switzerland Zurich , Geneva and Basel-Mulhouse .


KLM Airbus A330-200 in the old color scheme
KLM Boeing 737-800
Boeing 747-400M of KLM
KLM Boeing 787-9

Current fleet

As of March 2020, the KLM fleet consists of 122 aircraft with an average age of 11.3 years:

Aircraft type number ordered Remarks Seats
( Business / Eco + / Eco )
Airbus A330-200 8th Retirement planned by 2025 at the latest 243 (30/35/178)
243 (18/36/189)
Airbus A330-300 5 292 (30/40/222)
Boeing 737-700 16 equipped with winglets ; First delivery in 2008, start of decommissioning in the first quarter of 2019, replacement by Boeing 737-800 142 (20/6/116)
Boeing 737-800 31 with winglets fitted 180 (20/6/154)
Boeing 737-900 5 189 (28/18/143)
Boeing 747-400M 2 Combi version; still in use until after summer 2020 268 (35/36/197)
Boeing 777-200ER 15th 7 operated under the KLM Asia brand 318 (34/40/244)
Boeing 777-300ER 14th 2 2 operated under the KLM Asia brand 408 (34/40/334)
Boeing 787-9 13 7th Order of Air France-KLM 294 (30/48/216)
Boeing 787-10 5 3 344 (38/27/279)
total 112 12

Former aircraft types

The following types of aircraft were used in the past:

Aircraft type number introduction Retirement Remarks
Airbus A310-200 10 1983 1997 Deliveries from 1983 to 1985; replaced by Boeing 767
Airco DH16 x 1920 first type of aircraft started operations with the KLM on May 17, 1920
BAC 1-11-300 01 1968 1968 leased from British Eagle International Airlines
Boeing 737-200 04th 1987 1995 leased from Transavia ; partly operated in KLM colors
Boeing 737-300 19th 1986 2004 replaced the DC-9-30, temporarily rented by Transavia
Boeing 737-400 19th 1989 2001 temporary rental of other companies
Boeing 747-200 x 1971 1989/2003 from 1984 partial conversion to 747-200 SUD , this operated until 2003
Boeing 747-300 3 1983 2003
Boeing 747-400 2 1989 2020
Boeing 747-400ERF 3 1989 2020 KLM Cargo cargo planes
Boeing 767-300 12 1995 2006 Replacement by A330
Convair CV-240 12 1948 1957
Convair CV-340 07th 1953 1964
Convair CV-880 01 1963 1964 leased from VIASA , only one side of the hull painted in KLM colors
De Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide 05
Douglas DC-2 19th 1934 1940 remaining aircraft confiscated by the German Air Force in 1940
Douglas DC-3 51 1936 1955 many confiscated by the German Air Force in 1940; a subsequently acquired DC-3 used from 1972 for survey flights in Suriname
Douglas DC-4 27 1946 1959
Douglas DC-5 04th 1939 1942 Only civil operator worldwide, used to evacuate Java , two remaining ceded to USAAF in 1942
Douglas DC-6 (B) 18th 1948 1960
Douglas DC-7 15th 1956 1969 Delivery by December 1958, last operated as cargo aircraft , last KLM aircraft powered by piston engines from March 1963 Delivery of three aircraft to Südflug
Douglas DC-8-33 07th 1960 1973 last DC-8-33 assigned to VIASA in March 1973
Douglas DC-8-50 18th 1961 1979 Divestment of most of the DC-8-50s in the 1970s, last DC-8-55 leased to Surinam Airways in December 1979 and then sold to them
Douglas DC-8-63 11 1967 1985 last machines taken over by Icelandair and Eagle Air of Iceland
Douglas DC-9-10 06th 1966 1989 Most DC-9-10s were retired as early as the 1970s, one operated until 1989
Douglas DC-9-30 19th 1967 1989 last aircraft sold to Evergreen International Airlines in early 1989
Fokker F.VIII 07th 1927 1939
Fokker F.XVIII 05 1932 1939
Fokker F-27 04th 1960 1972 first two F-27s acquired in 1960, further leased in the same year; operated again from 1967; 1972 NLM Cityhopper ceded
Fokker 100 06th 1989 1992
Ilyushin Il-62 08th 1971 1972 leased from Aeroflot
McDonnell Douglas DC-10 12 1972 1996
McDonnell Douglas MD-11 10 1994 2014 the world's last operator of the passenger MD-11; Adoption of the last three on October 26, 2014, last passenger flight on November 11, 2014 ( PH-KCD, flight number KL9899)
Lockheed 14 Super Electra 01 1938 1938 had an accident on December 9, 1938 on a training flight
Lockheed L-049 Constellation 06th 1946 1950
Lockheed L-188 Electra 12
Lockheed L-749 Constellation 20th 1947
Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation 22nd 1953
Pilatus PC-6 02 1968 1984 used to take aerial photographs
Vickers Viscount 09 1957 1967 Delivery from June 1957, one each in July and August, three in October, two in November, one in December.

Logo, color scheme and aircraft name

The KLM logo is a stylized, light blue crown with KLM lettering in light blue on a white background. It was designed by Frederick Henry Kay Henrion in 1961 and modified by Chris Ludlow ( Henrion Ludlow Schmidt ) in 1991 . The logo on the front fuselage is white on a light blue background.

The top of KLM aircraft has been light blue ( Pantone 299) since the early 1970s , and underneath there is a vertical stripe in dark blue (Pantone 541), which has been made narrower since 2002. The underside of the aircraft is light gray (Pantone Cool Gray 3), the tail unit is white with a light blue logo.

At the end of 2014 the color division was changed again. The colors and the company logo remain the same, now the blue area in the front part of the aircraft is drawn down in a wave-like manner in order to better adapt to the shape of the aircraft's nose. The lettering “Royal Dutch Airlines” is now written in white next to the KLM emblem on the fuselage.

KLM assigns the aircraft names as follows: The Airbus A330 are assigned to cities that are known around the world, Boeing 737s are named after bird species , Boeing 747 after capital cities , Boeing 777 after world cultural heritage and Boeing 787 after flowers . The first 787-9, for example, was named "Zonnebloem" (sunflower).

Special paints

KLM operates some of its machines with special paintwork. The following is an illustrated overview of the current special paintings:

Aircraft type Aircraft registration Painting image
Boeing 737-800 PH-BXA " Retro (90 Years Anniversary) " PH-BXA (4014003099) .jpg
Boeing 737-900 PH-BXO " SkyTeam " Boeing 737 KLM PH-BXO SVO July 2010.jpg
Boeing 777-300ER PH-BVD PH-BVD (17038163041) .jpg
PH-BVA " Orange Pride " PH-BVA KLM Royal Dutch Airlines "Orange Pride" (29069382963) (2) .jpg

subsidiary company

Boeing 747-400ERF of KLM Cargo

Former companies

Boeing 777-200ER in the colors of KLM Asia
  • KLM Asia: Due to a law of the People's Republic of China , which did not allow airlines flying to Taiwan to also fly to the People's Republic of China, KLM was forced to set up its own company for the Taiwan routes. For this purpose, KLM Asia was founded in 1995 , which initially operated five Boeing 747-400Ms with the additional asia logo but without the stylized KLM crown and national flags. Later on, the KLM Asia fleet also included Boeing 777-200ER and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft . Similar companies were also founded by other European companies. KLM Asia flew under the 2-letter code "KL" from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and has since been disbanded - but the planes continue to fly in the paint scheme described.
  • KLM Alps: The Swiss Air Engiadina founded the KLM franchise company KLM Alps in 1998 . Among other things, KLM Alps maintained flight connections between Friedrichshafen and Vienna . Since 2001 KLM Alps has been operating independently again under the name Air Alps .


KLM Royal Dutch Airlines recorded a total of 45 total losses of aircraft in its history up to March 2020. In 28 of them, 843 people were killed. Examples:

  • On July 12, 1949, a Lockheed L-749 Constellation (PH-TDF) was approaching Bombay Airport in a hill five kilometers east of the airport. All 45 people on board were killed.
  • On February 2, 1950, a Douglas DC-3 (PH-TEU) crashed into the sea 65 km off the Dutch coast. She was on a cargo flight from Amsterdam to London Heathrow . All seven crew members were killed.
  • On March 23, 1952, a Lockheed L-749 Constellation (PH-TFF) was destroyed in a crash landing with an engine fire at Don Mueang Airport . All 44 people on board survived.
  • On May 25, 1953, the captain of a Convair CV-240 (PH-TEI) broke off take-off from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol after having reached a height of almost 20 m. The plane sped through the airport fence across a road into a field. Two girls were killed in the street.
  • On September 5, 1954, a KLM Lockheed L-1049C Super Constellation (PH-LKY) crashed on its flight from Shannon to New York-Idlewild Airport . The machine hit the mud of the River Shannon at takeoff 31 seconds after flying over the end of the runway . In the accident, 28 of the 56 occupants were killed, 3 crew members and 25 passengers. The rescue work was only initiated after the navigator had fought his way through the river delta to the airport. Reasons were premature retraction of the landing flaps and premature reduction in engine power as well as a warning light that had been defective for a long time for the retraction status of the landing gear (see also KLM flight 633 ) .
  • On May 30, 1961, a Douglas DC-8-53 (PH-DCL) crashed five minutes after taking off from Lisbon Airport for unknown reasons. She was on a flight on behalf of VIASA . All 61 inmates were killed.
  • On June 12, 1961, a Lockheed L-188C Electra (PH-LLM) coming from Rome flew four kilometers from the runway into a hill that is only 60 meters higher than the airport while approaching Cairo International Airport. The machine was on its way to Karachi and Kuala Lumpur. 20 of the 36 inmates were killed.
  • On December 15, 1989, a Boeing 747-400 (PH-BFC) was on KLM Flight 867 from Amsterdam to Anchorage when all four engines failed after entering a cloud of volcanic ash from Mount Redoubt . After the successful restart, a safe landing in Anchorage was achieved.
  • On April 4, 1994 crashed a Saab 340B (PH-KSH) of KLM Cityhopper , which carried out a flight under a flight number of KLM, the go-around on the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport from. The machine was on its way from Amsterdam to Cardiff when a control lamp for the engine oil pressure came on due to a short circuit. Even before the first officer consulted the checklist, the master brought the right engine to idle. After going through the checklist, it was decided to continue the flight, but the captain forgot to restart the shutdown engine. At an altitude of 17,000 feet, the machine's performance limit was reached and it stopped climbing. Since they suspected a defect, the pilots returned to Amsterdam. As the captain to a go- decided the machine rolled directly in front of the runway to the right and crashed. Three people were killed; 9 inmates were injured. The reason was the misconduct of the pilots who did not bring the propeller of the supposedly damaged engine into the sail position (see also KLM flight 433 ) .


See also


  • Bram Bouwens, Frido Ogier: Welcome aboard! Een eeuw KLM. Zwolle: WBOOKS, 2019, ISBN 978-94-625-8321-4
  • Marc LJ Dierikx: Blauw in de lucht. Koninklijke Luchtvaart-Maatschappij, 1919-1999. The Hague: Sdu-Uitg., 1999, ISBN 90-12-08750-3
  • Rainer W. During: KLM for 100 years. In: Fliegerrevue . No. 11/2019, pp. 42-48.
  • Marga Knop: KLM in beeld. 75 years prior to promotion. Naarden: V + K Publ., 1994, ISBN 90-6611-423-1
  • Bruce Hales-Dutton: Anniversary Special: KLM at 100. In: Airliner World. No. 10/2019, pp. 84-96.
  • Astrid Röben: 100 years of KLM. In: AERO International . No. 10/2019, pp. 74-78.
  • Ron Wunderink: Met KLM de wereld rond. Een eeuw Flying Dutchman. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Balans, 2019, ISBN 978-94-6003-947-8

Web links

Commons : KLM  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
 Wikinews: KLM  - in the news

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