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KLM eyes revival of direct flights

MANILA, Philippines - KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is bullish on its operations in the Philippines amid the country’s strong economic growth as well as the strong load factor of its flight between Manila and Amsterdam.

Patrick Roux, senior vice president for Asia Pacific of KLM, said in an interview that the airline could revive direct flights between Manila and Amsterdam if market conditions continue to improve in the Philippines.

Roux pointed out that even Air France could revive flights to the Philippines once market conditions improve.

Aside from higher demand, he explained that there is also a need to allow KLM to carry passengers between Manila and Taipei.

“We don’t have the right so far to sell tickets between Manila and Taipei. That is what we would like to have as the next step to secure the operations, but that is not in our hands. It is linked to bilateral agreement between two governments so we are waiting hopefully for good news,” he said.

He explained that favorable response to its request to carry passengers between Manila and Taipei could entice the airline to expand its operations in the country by mounting direct flights between Manila and Amsterdam or the return of Air France to Manila.

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Air France – KLM stopped its direct Manila – Amsterdam flights in March 2012 due to the failure of the government to lower or abolish aviation taxes. Instead, passengers from Manila would first fly to Taipei before proceeding to Amsterdam.

Air France and KLM merged in 2004 and now operate the leading long-haul network from Europe. KLM is the only European carrier operating to and from the Philippines for 64 years.

KLM operates seven weekly flights between Manila and Amsterdam via Taipei.

Roux disclosed that the load factor of its Manila to Amsterdam route is well over 90 percent.

KLM Philippines country manager Raymond Reedijk said traffic between Manila and Amsterdam is growing, prompting the airline to use Boeing 777-300 that carry over 100 more passengers.

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