This weekend marked the 75th anniversary of KLM’s operations out of Nigeria. After a disrupted two years of operations, the Dutch flag carrier is hoping for booming traffic this summer from Africa’s most populous country.
Celebrating the anniversary
KLM is considered the world’s oldest airline still in service, finding its roots in 1919. However, celebrating a 75-year anniversary of serving any country is a significant milestone. The carrier kicked off operations on 26th March 1947 when Nigeria was still a British colony and has remained there ever since.
The Dutch flag carrier has a big market in Nigeria, which boasts of the largest African population of over 210 million people and abundant opportunities for VFR (visiting friends and relatives) and business traffic. This is evidenced by KLM’s 1.69 million round-trip seats in 2021 from sub-Saharan Africa, an important part of which came from Nigeria.
KLM has deployed a variety of aircraft to Nigeria over the years, including the 747 last year. Photo: Getty Images
In a statement, Christine Quantin, Country Manager for Air France-KLM nigeria, said,
“At KLM, our aim has always been to move our customer’s world through creating memorable experiences, a vision we strive to embody in all aspects of our business, including how we operate. For these 75 years, we’ve connected worlds for business for love and friendships. From global instabilities to changing economic conditions, KLM has successfully navigated the evolving landscape and we’ve also been able to maintain our operations from Nigeria.”
KLM’s busy summer schedule
For passengers flying today or over the summer, KLM is planning a major schedule along with partner airline Air France. The Dutch carrier will offer six weekly services, operating all days except Wednesday, leaving Amsterdam at 14:30 and landing in Lagos at 20:00 local times. The return service leaves Lagos at 22:05 and arrives in the Dutch capital at 05:40 AM the next day.
KLM is currently using its Airbus A330s to serve the Amsterdam-Lagos route and has been doing so since January. The larger A330-300 features 292 seats, with 30 in business, 40 in economy comfort, and 222 in standard economy.
The A330 is KLM’s current choice for its Nigeria flights. Photo: KLM
This schedule is complemented by flights from Air France, which will fly five times weekly using an A330 as well. Together, the pair offer the most services out of Nigeria for any airline and can go up to 15 weekly flights at the peak. As usual, schedules are subject to change due to COVID restrictions or bans from authorities.
Tricky aviation politics in Nigeria
Since the pandemic first hit, Nigeria’s aviation authorities have been keeping a close eye on traffic distribution and access for its citizens abroad. KLM only resumed flights to the country in December 2020, following a dispute about Nigerians on tourist visas not being let into the country. While European airlines have since sidestepped restrictions, Emirates was embroiled in a year-long standoff over COVID test rules and traffic rights for local airlines. Hopefully, this summer is not marked by similar troubles as travel reopens.
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