KLM Stops Aruba-flights

03 Feb 2009 comments (15) · leave comment 567 words

klm-no-more
KLM: Amsterdam – Aruba no more

After almost seven decades of faithful service to Aruba, KLM – owned by French airline giant Air France-KLM – today announced its ceases operations to Aruba effective March 2009. Can you guess the reason? That’s right, the economy.

For most part in the seven decades KLM operated Amsterdam – Aruba virtually without any serious competition, until a few years ago when Martinair (recently KLM acquired 100% of Martinair) and Arkefly started flying to Aruba. Martinair announced it’s ‘adjusting’ the schedule to cope with the new reality which most likely means additional flights.

Last year I read an article on KLM competitiveness where it states that most routes where KLM operates from Amsterdam it has little competition. On about only 14% of its routes it has more than two rivals operating, from which only two are trans-atlantic: Aruba and Toronto. In hindsight it was more a question of when and not if the route to Aruba was going to be abandoned. KLM seems to be the weaker of the three, as the airliner isn’t making a load of money on the route anymore.

Another difference between KLM and Martinair/Arkefly is that KLM operates the tri-jet MD11 aircraft type with a seating capacity of around 290 seats, while Martinair/Arkefly operate twin-jet Boeing 767-300 aircraft type with around 270 seats. I’m sure one is more efficient than the other.

History doesn’t count – as it shouldn’t – when operating in a difficult business as the airline business. KLM will surely be missed in Aruba. Not necessarily as a company rather more as an iconic symbol and the long bond between Aruba and Holland. In the old days the only way to leave this island was through the air and the farthest away one could go was with KLM to Amsterdam. Also you felt a little pride when you passed Aruba airport and saw how the tale of the blue KLM plane towered above American giants such American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Continental Airlines or United Airlines.

As a kid I remembered when I stepped onto the giant aircraft and had the time of my life. I traveled to Holland, Panama and Costa Rica with KLM in the 80s. Lately the feeling isn’t like that anymore. In fact it was more of a dragĀ  as the seats seem very tight, long lines at the gates and the flights weren’t non-stop anymore.

Update: Local officials are needless to say not amused by the measure. Local tourism minister said to be disappointed as he said that he spoke with KLM not so long ago about a new European ad-campaign financed by Aruba in order to fill the seats to Aruba.

The minister continued saying that the reasoning, in his opinion, is without logic. Why flights to other Dutch islands, such as Bonaire and St. Maarten continues in some form, while not to Aruba. He finalized by saying that KLM charged an average of 90 Euros more for tickets to Aruba than the other Dutch islands, thus considered it a premium destination.

On the other side, local airport officials declared that one third of the capacity from Amsterdam is slashed and revenue will be down with about $1.5 million this year.

As Kevin mentioned this could be a nightmare for travelers in Europe, as KLM was the easiest option even with all the extra stops.

Update: Starting February 2010, KLM restored the route Amsterdam – Aruba using a Boeing 747-400.

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15 Comments

  1. Kevin Tracy says:

    Hi Gabriel,

    This is bad news for European visitors to Aruba as KLM were the most direct flights you could get other than First Choice who only offer a limited service. I was looking at coming to Aruba this year from November 14-28 to our timeshare which we bought in 2007 but with KLM now going out of business the route we will have to take will mean two stops in the US a longer flight or an overnight stay in most cases, which is not really what we want. The prices for flights to Aruba this year are already quite expensive so we may have to look elsewhere, I hope not but we will keep looking at the US routes.

    • Gabriel says:

      Kevin thanks for your comment. I know that traveling through the US to Aruba is not the ideal thing to do, as the security measures make it incredibly tedious. But there is still another option. KLM still has daily non-stop flights to Curacao – Aruba’s neighboring island – and from Curacao to Aruba it’s a short hop with 10 flights a day between the islands. Just a suggestion.

      I also believe Martinair is still an option from Amsterdam. Currently Martinair has 3-weekly flights and might add one more. And don’t forget to check Arkefly from Amsterdam.

  2. Kevin Tracy says:

    Hi Gabriel,

    I have been on the net during the day as regards your suggestion to Curacao but DAE do not seem to fly in November, Tiara air flights coming home on the 28th Nov mean a 9 hour wait for the KLM flight home at 18.55. KLM price and timings were great to Curacao. Martinair or Arkefly do not seem to have a schedule for November that can be accessed on the net. I have found a route with Continental from Manchester to Newark then on to Miami then Miami to Aruba with AA arriving 23.10. Price is not too bad but it is a long haul. Well I am determined to get back this year to Aruba somehow.

    Best Regards
    Kevin

  3. Gabriel says:

    November is still far away and it might be difficult to access information online that far ahead, but I suggest to you to just take a look at the departure schedules for Curacao airport and the arrival schedules for Aruba airport in order to see what’s cooking between the islands. Make sure you do access the sites in the morning time (local time), because as the day progresses old information is deleted.

    » Curacao departures
    » Aruba arrivals

    As of today Tiara Air, DAE and Insel Air cover the route. Keep in mind that many of these airlines don’t have a live booking system online. They rely on the old fashioned telephone. Check them for your self.

    The funny thing is that when you travel with an extra stop over sometimes it’s cheaper than a direct flight.

  4. Kevin says:

    Hi Gabriel Thought I would drop you a line to let you know we have booked our flights for November 14-28 2009 and have booked with KLM from Manchester to Amsterdam and then with Martinair from Amsterdam to Aruba. It seems that Martinair have stepped in to fill in the gap left by KLM in the schedule from Amsterdam to Aruba this November which was’nt available when KLM originally announced they were pulling out of Aruba. Can’t wait now for November and by the way any more updates on the Divi Aruba new development and if it will all be finished and running by November. Keep up the good work Gabriel a great web site.

    Best Regards
    Kevin

  5. Gabriel says:

    Martinair announced last week it was going to fly daily from Amsterdam to Aruba using their Boeing 767-300 in two classes. Indeed Martinair stepped up and filled the gap left behind by KLM. In fact, KLM flew four times a week with a bigger aircraft and now Martinair is flying daily with a bigger aircraft. Not bad.

    In terms of Divi Phoenix, the development is in advanced stages right now. The other day I was there and saw good progress. One of these days I’m going to write about it again.

    Thanks for the comment Kevin. Cheers

  6. Danel says:

    Ik vraag me af als KLM nog naar St. Maarten vliegt. KLM vliegt met een tussen stop naar St. Maarten. Wij gaan in Juli naar Nederland. [Administrator - Translation: I'm wondering if KLM is still flying to St. Maarten. KLM flies with a stop over in St. Maarten. We are traveling to the Netherlands in July.]

    • Gabriel says:

      KLM just announced that it was further expanding its operations to Aruba’s neighboring island Curacao, with the replacement of the MD11 to the much bigger B747-400. This daily flight from Amsterdam to Curacao stops twice a week in St. Maarten.

  7. Giampaolo says:

    KLM starts flying from Amsterdam to Aruba again, starting 01.02.2010, twice a week, direct with B-747. The return is via Curacao. Thanks for the update.

    • Gabriel says:

      Thanks for the update. It’s been a really long time since KLM flew with the Boeing 747-400 to Aruba. Let’s hope the aircraft KLM is going to use to the Aruba-route isn’t the “City of Lima” which has had a lot of issues in the past.

  8. Giampaolo says:

    The 747-400 was in the route at least until late 2005.. but the routing was the other way round, first Curacao, then Aruba (from Amsterdam). What is strange is to re-introduce a route cancelled only 10 months ago. I suppose they have laid off all the personnel in Aruba (or transferred them to Martinair) and now KLM will be forced to hire new people again. Not very bad since I had many issues checking in with the KLM staff in Aruba. The last time I flew out of Aruba with KLM I was very disappointed with their staff there. So a new bunch of people will be more than welcome :-)

    • Gabriel says:

      When KLM took the decision to cancel all flights form Aruba after so many years I thought it was purely a business decision and not political. Previous government suggested on several occasions that this was a political move by KLM. Now I have my doubts, it looks a lot like a political move. I don’t buy the explanation KLM uttered that “demand for Aruba has picked up”.

      Current government have welcomed back KLM and are hailed as heroes. I wonder how many concessions the island government and Aruba airport had to make to KLM in order to convince them to fly back to Aruba. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see the blue KLM jets back to Aruba, especially the legendary KLM Boeing 747. It’s a beautiful plane indeed. I’m just weary of politicians and multinational companies in general.

      In terms of my experiences with KLM, it’s not good or bad. It’s somewhere in the middle. I’ve had better service from other airlines.

  9. Maria says:

    We live in Italy and have a timeshare in Aruba. Until last year we had always booked KLM departing from Italy and connecting in Amsterdam for the flight to Aruba. I’m glad to see that KLM has returned to the Aruba market, but it’s not much use to us: their flights are on Mondays and Wednesdays, I believe, and our timeshare is Saturday-Saturday.
    In one month we will be flying Martinair to Aruba; we had to book separate KLM flights to Amsterdam, arriving the night before (and requiring a hotel stay) to make sure we would make the Martinair flight. Coming back, although we have allowed for a 6 hour layover at Schiphol, we are risking that if the Martinair flight is very late or cancelled, we could lose our KLM ticket back to Italy. We also no longer have the convenience of being able to check our bags to the final destination.
    It would be nice if Martinair (which does have a connection with KLM) would allow the booking of flights also from cities outside Holland, to allow passengers from the rest of Europe to travel on a single ticket to Aruba.

    • Gabriel says:

      Maria thank you very much for your extensive comment. I understand your concern. The new bi-weekly KLM flights brings new alternative to travelers, but in your case it’s not ideal. However, I believe KLM will increase this frequency for the next season just like in the past. Having said that the market from Amsterdam to Aruba seems to be getting full. Apart from KLM, there are Martinair and Arke Fly. Who knows, perhaps going forward Air France/KLM decides to merge some Martinair and KLM flights to Aruba. What ever the case may be I hope you have the best option coming to Aruba. Is Rome – Caracas – Aruba not an option perhaps? Thank you for visiting.

  10. Maria says:

    Thanks for your comments, Gabriel.
    Rome is not a convenient airport for us (we usually fly out of Milan or Bologna), and I couldn’t find any connecting nonstop flights between Caracas and Aruba (most seemed to go through Bogota).
    We’ll see how the KLM + Martinair combination works out this next trip. Just 15 more days to our departure — we can’t wait, we really need our Aruba time after such a rigid winter!

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