Dutch national carrier KLM announces a plan to expand its current lockdown-impacted network to 91 European and 61 intercontinental destinations in October 2020, just shy of the 92 and 69 routes it had before the pandemic struck.
According to the company’s press release, its network in Europe is already “virtually at its pre-COVID-19 level” and is expected to grow even more in the coming months. One third of intercontinental flights still only carry cargo as local rules do not allow passenger travel, but those regulations are likely to change soon too.
Not all served destinations will be pre-crisis though, as the ones KLM is not able to service are to be supplanted with new ones. Cork (ORK), Southampton (SOU) and Riyadh (RUH) are the new additions to the carrier’s network and will be visited by its Embraer 175s and Airbus A330s from August 3, 31 and September 28 respectively.
Coverage is the only parameter to be returning at pre-COVID levels. A number of flights and passenger capacity lag behind, confirming that the industry will likely need years to return to normality. Compared to over 52500 KLM’s flights conducted in August, September and October of 2019, only 34000 are planned for the same period of 2020.
The passengers will feel the impact as well, with face masks mandatory during both boarding and flight, and extra hygiene equipment (presumably, omnipresent bottles of hand disinfectant) provided.
The return is possible in part due to Air France-KLM being a receiver of one of larger packages of aid, as French state, together with banks, provided it with €7 billion loan and Dutch government and banks supplied another €3.4 billion.