After 20 years, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, has returned to the shores of Trinidad and Tobago.
The airline is now operating flights between Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and Piarco International Airport in Trinidad.
The airline is currently operating three weekly flights, on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, from the Netherlands to Trinidad and Tobago, with a layover in Barbados.
KLM operates an extensive network that includes services within Europe and to Asia, Africa, North America, Central and South America, and the Middle East.
Speaking to Caribbean Journal on Friday, as to how flights have been doing was Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Tourism Randall Mitchell who said the ministry is pleased with the performance of the flight thus far.
“Our data shows that it is performing far above our expectations and this is particularly encouraging during a time where the sector is recovering,” Mitchell said.
He indicated that advanced bookings are currently at 60 per cent and this shows a significant interest in Trinidad and Tobago and speaks to the attractiveness of the destination.
Asked what his thoughts were on KLM returning to the country Mitchell said: “This is a new market for Trinidad and we also intend to capitalize on the connections that the Schiphol Hub offers. This flight has opened numerous possibilities for targeting other non-traditional source markets. Initial data shows that people are not only coming from Amsterdam but from Asia and other parts of Europe.”
Caribbean Journal caught up with two travelers who had flown in from the Netherlands to Piarco International Airport last week Friday for a wedding which happened on the weekend.
Jamie De Jong and Sophie Bakker said the flight was just over 9 hours, but it was a smooth ride and the flight attendants were friendly and efficient.
“When we arrived at Piarco International Airport all COVID-19 protocols were in place and we got through quickly. The workers at the airport were warm and welcoming. The taxi service to our hotel was also very efficient and the driver told us about Trinidad and Tobago’s rich culture,” De Jong and Bakker said.
Deputy Chairman for Trinidad’s Airports Authority, James Philbert, told CJ the introduction of this route could result in lower costs to travel to Europe through increased competition with the addition of a new carrier.
Philbert said travelers can also look forward to faster times in reaching their final destinations as Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) is a major European hub, which offers direct connections to cities in Europe and across the world.
“The courtship to woo KLM Airlines back to these shores after over 20 years of absence began in 2019, and involved a collaborative effort by the Trinidad and Tobago Tourism agencies, the Dutch Embassy, and the Airport’s Authority. We persevered even amidst the challenges of the global Covid-19 pandemic and remained committed even during the time of border closures and existential uncertainty in the aviation industry. Philbert said.
The route, he noted, was critical in establishing the Piarco International Airport as the major air transport hub of the southern Caribbean.
“Already, Port of Spain is a gateway to the Americas, and the Caribbean, while Schipol Airport in Amsterdam is a key hub in Europe. This new linkage creates greater opportunities for connectivity and accessibility to European, Middle Eastern, African, and Asian markets,” Philbert said.
Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to TT Raphaël Varga van KibèdVan Kibèd said he was excited that the route had been established.
“As the Dutch Ambassador, it is a pleasure to have been a part of the realization of this direct connection between our two countries. During these difficult pandemic times, it takes great foresight and making brave decisions to go into a future with fresh new adventures,” van Kibèd said.
He said that traveling was not just about tourism, but that the direct connection would also mean a boost in business opportunities between the two countries.