KLM bumps capacity to pre-Sept. 11 levels

KLM bumps capacity to pre-Sept. 11 levels

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Europe's fourth largest carrier, on Monday said it plans to restore freight and passenger capacity to levels last seen prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks that precipitated the collapse of global air traffic.

The carrier, which is in the process of merging with rival Air France, said capacity will increase by between 5 percent and 10 percent for the summer season starting at the end of March 2004. The move follows substantial cuts in the past two years triggered by economic recession and the SARS epidemic in Asia.

KLM's North Atlantic routes, which it operates in a joint venture with Northwest Airlines, accounts for the bulk of increased long haul flights coupled with additional services to China and Japan. Flight frequency between Amsterdam and Minneapolis will be increased from two to three daily roundtrips and from seven to nine weekly roundtrips on the Amsterdam-Houston route.

The airline will increase capacity on daily services between Amsterdam and Toronto by operating 747-400 aircraft instead of the smaller 777. KLM will also start exercising its extended landing rights for China and Japan in March with daily roundtrips to Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo.

KLM's freight traffic on Atlantic routes slipped by 9 percent in November from a year ago after it cut capacity by 11 percent by operating fewer 747-300 combi flights.