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Dutch carrier looks to expand PH operations

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines wants to expand its operations in the Philippines, citing heightened prospects for leisure and business travelers, a top airline official said on Thursday.

KLM, which is celebrating its 64th year of operations in the Philippines, currently serves the Manila-Amsterdam route, via Taipei, Taiwan, daily.

But the airline’s expansion plans will hinge on talks between the Philippine and Dutch governments, whether they will agree to expand certain bilateral rights, said Patrick Roux, KLM senior vice president for Asia Pacific.

Roux was referring to fifth-freedom rights, which allows a carrier like KLM to sell tickets to passengers between the Manila-Taipei leg of the journey. This will improve aircraft efficiency and the carrier’s profitability, he explained.

“We will try to get this right to sell to local traffic. That will help us sustain the route and develop again,” Roux said.

There are no scheduled air talks yet between the Philippines and the Netherlands, according to the Civil Aeronautics Board.

“The Philippines is a very promising market. Within Asia, the Philippines is the fastest-developing country right now,” Roux added.

Also, KLM plans to ramp up its presence among corporate clients in the Philippines. KLM’s Manila-Amsterdam flight enjoys passenger loads in excess of 90 percent because of Filipino seafarers being deployed in Europe.

But Roux noted that they were also looking to boost revenue per passenger. This means more travelers booked in business class, he said.

KLM’s Manila-Amsterdam route is being served by its Boeing 777-200 and B777-300 planes.

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