Finally: After 2-year delay, KLM Austin-Amsterdam route takes off

Mar 26, 2022

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Custom-made cookies, specially printed socks, and a branded reusable water bottle are just some of the ways KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) are celebrating the Monday launch of thrice-weekly services between Austin and Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport (AMS).

The flight, which will operate Monday, Thursday, and Saturday and provide the first non-stop service between the two cities, was originally set to begin operating in early May 2020. But the launch was delayed almost two full years due to the pandemic and a drastic restructuring of KLM.

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The KLM logo will be on cookies. (Image courtesy of KLM)

“We committed to our stakeholders to launch Austin when market conditions were right and when travel was once again possible as we believe there is a strong business case for the route,” KLM CEO Pieter Elbers told TPG in a pre-launch interview. “So here we are today.”

With the launch of service to Austin, KLM will be offering direct flights to 12 U.S. destinations this summer. And while KLM already serves Texas in Houston, Elbers said adding Austin is key.

Related: Watch us fly KLM 2 different ways: Business class versus economy

“Austin has emerged as a global destination with its booming tech industry and thriving culture. It makes sense to offer direct access to Amsterdam, another tech hub, especially given that there are already many Dutch companies with offices in Austin,” said Elbers. “Europeans are eager to explore Austin, and with this route, we connect Austin to KLM’s vast global network via Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.”

KLM will operate the AUS-AMS flight with a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with 30 World Business Class flatbed seats, 38 Economy Comfort seats, and 216 standard economy seats. KL0668 departs AUS 6 p.m. and arrives in AMS the next day at 10:25 a.m. Flight KL667 departs AMS 12:40 p.m. and arrives in AUS at 4:10 p.m. All times are local.

(Image courtesy of KLM)

While airlines around the world have not yet reinstituted all pre-pandemic services and amenities on flights, even in business or first-class, Elbers assured TPG that on the AUS-AMS flights, passengers flying in World Business Class can expect to be gifted a gin-filled miniature Delftware house, a much-loved KLM perk that dates back to the 1950s.

“It’s such a great item and it’s well appreciated by our customers,” Elbers told TPG. “We have a collection of 102 of these, one for each year KLM exists, which we think is a nice way of celebrating being the oldest airline in the world still operating under its original name.”

KLM unveils a new miniature house to mark its anniversary on October 7. And last year the stunning Tuschinski Theatre in Amsterdam was portrayed in the Delftware miniature. As KLM CEO, Elbers has final say on which building becomes a KLM miniature next. We asked, but he was not willing to give TPG any clues on the 2022 choice.

Related: KLM reveals Delft House 102 that you can snag on your next flight

“Ha, ha. No, I can’t specify this year’s house just yet. But I can name a few of my favorites. Hotel New York in Rotterdam which we did the same year as the 75th anniversary of KLM service to New York. It’s from where the ships long ago left for the U.S., and it is personally significant for me because I am from Rotterdam,” Elbers told TPG.

Another of his favorites is Hamel house in Gorinchem, which he says is a testimony to the Dutch sailor who was one of the first foreigners on the Korean peninsula.

“I could go on,” said Elbers. “Each house has their own story.”

Going forward, KLM, the airline industry, and Elbers are facing new chapters in their stories.

Elbers says he is “cautiously optimistic,” about what is next for KLM.

“We know people are eager to travel and connect with friends and loved ones,” he told TPG. “We see that coming back quickly. Every time markets open, our customers are excited to come back. Of course, the world is facing multiple challenges – some of them very serious at the moment, but eventually there will be brighter days ahead.”

With respect to his upcoming departure from KLM, scheduled in May 2023 after a thirty-year career, including 8 years serving as the CEO, Elbers said his time with the KLM team, which he refers to as a family, “has been an unimaginably beautiful journey that I will always cherish. I can only be super grateful for the cooperation and opportunity to work closely with so many great colleagues and partners.”

Featured image courtesy of KLM.

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