KLM to redeploy parked combi aircraft

By Damian Brett

Dutch carrier KLM has decided to redeploy two Boeing 747 combi aircraft in order to meet cornavirus-related demand.

The airline said that it had partnered with health-tech firm Royal Philips and the Dutch government to create a special cargo air bridge between the Netherlands and China. 

KLM pointed out that around 90% of flights between Europe and Asia had been axed, resulting in a “major shortage of cargo capacity”.

As part of this project, KLM will redeploy two B747 Combis on two weekly flights to Beijing and three weekly flights to Shanghai, bringing in around 250 tonnes of extra cargo capacity each way per week.

The full freighters will also continue to operate on South Atlantic routes and to destinations in Africa.

The flights will supplement the current “skeleton schedule” that took effect on March 29, with two weekly flights to Beijing and two weekly flights to Shanghai, operated with Boeing 787s and 777s.

Meanwhile, the KLM/Martinair full freighters will continue to be deployed on North Atlantic routes, which Philips will use as an air bridge between Amsterdam and distribution points in the US.

KLM president and chief executive, Pieter Elbers, said: “I believe it is incredibly important that KLM can be of service to broader Dutch society in this time of crisis, by way of our flexibility, creativity and cooperation with partners.

“This is perfectly exemplified by the initiative from Philips to join hands with KLM in seeking a solution for freeing up cargo capacity between Europe and China for essential medical supplies.

“I am very proud that the professional and dedicated staff of both companies have managed to realise this initiative at such short notice.”

In early March, KLM had decided that it would phase out its remaining Boeing 747s in April 2020.

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