KLM to replace Brussels flight with Thalys

Schiphol Airport station (photo Louis Espéret via flickr license)

Replace the plane on short distance? KLM will do it on Amsterdam-Brussels. For the good of the planet or following a decline in attendance? It’s hard to say right now. In any case, from the end of March 2020, the airline KLM will remove one of its five daily flights to replace it with a TGV Thalys.

Passengers will use the Thalys high-speed train for travel between Brussels and Schiphol, KLM and Thalys said yesterday. Currently, KLM operates five daily return flights to Schiphol. One of these flights, the one that leaves late afternoon from Amsterdam to Brussels and leaves early in the evening, will be removed from March 29, 2020. « In 2020, we will take a big step forward with the removal of a daily flight to replace it with a greener train journey. In doing so, we are laying the foundation for the sustainable transportation system that we all need to build together for the 21st century », explains Bertrand Gosselin, CEO of Thalys. According Thalys, 13,000 travelers could be affected by March 2020.

Last March, the Dutch Minister for Infrastructure, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, said she had been in talks for some time with KLM, the Dutch Railways (NS) and Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam) to replace short-haul flights by rail connections where possible. « The aim is to encourage passengers between two close airports to opt for the train and to position the train as an attractive and simple alternative », she explains. According to her, the airlines could also benefit by using free slots for destinations economically more interesting.

And that’s from this view that we must see the decision to replace a short-haul flight by a Thalys journey. Short-haul flights have only one mission: to draw down intercontinental customers, especially for a world-class airport like Amsterdam. They are rather expensive and are not the ones that bring in the most revenue.

KLM has always stated that it is in favor of replacing short-haul flights with fast, reliable and comfortable rail alternatives. It is undeniable that Thalys can meet the desiderata of an airline clientele, the service being roughly identical, except for incidents on the rail network.

Thalys go fourteen times a day to Amsterdam via Schiphol airport , but not in Brussels airport, which may be one day completely disconnected from Amsterdam ! The two airports are only 160 kilometers away, and flights can take 28 to 35 minutes depending on the day. This reduction of frequencies is a first step, says KLM to news agencies.

By canceling this type of flight, KLM wins a time slot for other more profitable flights. We are therefore far from an ecological conscienciouness but rather a well-crafted strategy, both refocusing on more profitable flights and reallocation of aircraft, which would be justified on other routes. But by this, it is obvious that the train remains a winner.

(On the basis of Belga report)