KLM announced Wednesday that its route network was closer to operating at full strength as it raises the number of destinations it is serving within South America and the Caribbean, reaching 2019 levels with 17 destinations at the end of the quarter.

Destinations currently served in South America include the likes of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil; Santiago, Chile; Bogota, Colombia and San José and Liberia, Costa Rica, among others. Both destinations in Costa Rica have been recently added to the summer 2021 schedule with flights operating three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Destinations in the Caribbean within territory controlled by the Netherlands include Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. These destinations will see a larger number of weekly departures compared to 2019 in the weeks ahead. Meanwhile, for the 2021 winter schedule, KLM will open flights to two new destinations, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago as well as Bridgetown, Barbados. The flights will operate three times a week with the Airbus A330 on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.

These destinations will supplement the increase in leisure traffic from Europe following the pandemic.

“It’s great news that our network in the Caribbean Region and South America has as good as returned to its previous strength,” KLM President and CEO Pieter Elbers said in a statement. “We’re currently operating our entire global network at 60% capacity with 40% of the passengers. We are doing this in a safe and responsible manner, for which we have been rewarded with APEX Diamond Status for health safety. The next step will be to expand capacity and, as soon as the situation allows, of course, to welcome more passengers aboard our flights.”

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Throughout the pandemic, KLM has been very vocal regarding its network strategy. Unlike other carriers, KLM has been avid in maintaining its destinations from its base at Amsterdam-Schiphol. The carrier had rather have large frequency downgrades, as opposed to completely cancelling a destination from the network. As a result, throughout the latter months of 2020, the carrier maintained roughly 90% of its destinations whilst capacity in the form of Available Seat Kilometers (ASKs) were down to roughly 50%.

Certain destinations within South America and the Caribbean only allow for essential travel. Hence, travel restrictions may apply alongside certain countries requiring travellers to undergo mandatory quarantine.

APEX Diamond Status

Earlier this week, KLM received the Airline Passenger Experience Organization (APEX) Diamond Status certificate, adding itself to the list of 17 other airlines that have done so already, including sister airline Air France.

Three levels of health safety standards exist Gold, Platinum and Diamond, with Diamond being the highest. APEX measures health and safety standards with 58 areas across 10 stages of a passenger’s journey from online check-in to the boarding and post-flight experiences. Once the results have been analyzed, a step-by-step plan is set up on how to improve health and safety within the different areas if needed.

APEX Health and Safety aim to increase passenger and employee confidence during the pandemic.

By Matteo Giardini

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