KLM celebrated 85 years of flying to Johannesburg at Katy’s Palace Bar in Kramerville, Johannesburg, last week.
The event brought together high-ranking officials from the airline, including Marius Van der Ham, Air France-KLM GM for East and Southern Africa, Nigeria and Ghana, Wilson Tauro, Country Manager for Southern Africa at Air France-KLM, and Marjan Rintel, President and CEO of KLM.
“South Africa is a very special market for us. It is for sure one of our strongholds. It is where we have the most weekly flights in the region – 24 to be exact – between Air France and KLM to Cape Town and Johannesburg,” said Van der Ham.
He added that KLM had grown into a global player by pioneering, adjusting, and putting innovation first and delivering a high-quality customer experience and safety on board.
Tauro said the celebration was a testament to its commitment to South Africa.
“We have been here consistently throughout the period of COVID. When the world was shut to South Africa we continued flying to the country and making sure that there was a connection between South Africa and the rest of the world. This would not have been possible without our partners and the support from the industry.”
Rintel reiterated that the whole industry had suffered during COVID and that the airline still needed to solve some operational problems.
“We are currently at 90% capacity, but we are improving every day; 2023 was better than 2022 and 2024 will be even better, when we will be at 100% capacity – hopefully by the end of the year.”
Sustainability a primary goal
She also admitted that sustainability was difficult to achieve in the airline industry, and that it needed to accelerate the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
“Sustainability is one of our primary goals. We need to achieve the results not only for us, but for our children and grandchildren. We want to create a memorable experience on the planet we care for. We need to work hard and take it day by day, step by step.”
She revealed that the airline had invested in new aircraft that will arrive in 2026, and that it had been in discussions with the Dutch Government on a number of topics to improve the airline industry.
“We have discussed how we can reduce noise to fly differently or to use different aircraft at night; how we can make a step forward to introduce waste programmes to reduce the waste on board; and to fly with lighter equipment and lighter seats.”
Rintel added that KLM bought 17% of the world’s available SAF, and that it already used 1% every day in its flights from Amsterdam.
“We want to offer our customers the best service we can and we need to put effort into you, the customer, in everything we do.”