KLM expands Thalys partnership to cut down Amsterdam-Brussels flights
KLM is expanding its partnership with the Thalys international train operator to shuttle more of the Dutch airline's passengers between Amsterdam and Brussels. KLM still operates at least three, and often more, roundtrip flight pairings daily between the two capital cities.
The flight time is typically about 22 minutes, only slightly shorter than the 13 minutes of time the plane needs to taxi between the gate and the runway at both airports. The distance is less than 160 kilometers between Schiphol Airport and Brussels Airport.
The Dutch airline said it purchased seats on four more Thalys trains in both directions to offer more air/rail services. "The extra seats form part of KLM’s efforts to scale down its four daily flights still operated between Amsterdam and Brussels," KLM said. The extended service will be available from March 26 on five different trains in each direction, and will be offered via KLM's website. Between last July and and October, KLM replaced one daily roundtrip between the two cities with seating on the train instead. KLM did not add the eliminated flights back to their schedule after the pilot program ended.
Already back in 2018, KLM spoke out in favor of a proposal from the Dutch government, railroad infrastructure firm ProRail and national railway NS to work with their German counterparts to create a four-hour train from Amsterdam to Berlin. Two years later, KLM worked with the Ministry of Infrastructure, the NS, ProRail and Schiphol to make trains a more attractive option for flights of distances up to 700 kilometers, specifically between Amsterdam and Brussels, Paris, London, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, and Berlin. This was to create a more sustainable alternative to short-haul flights on the popular routes.
KLM reiterated their support for the plan on Wednesday. "KLM’s approach to sustainability focuses on reducing emissions and noise impact, and the ongoing development of its air/rail product forms part of these efforts," the airline said.
However, a KLM passenger survey said that train replacement service would become more appealing if transfers between the train and Schiphol Airport passenger terminals were easier. Passengers also wanted more assistance with baggage, and better communication with customers originating from outside of the region who may not be familiar with the Thalys service. "These obstacles must be removed before KLM can permanently replace flights to and from Brussels with rail capacity," KLM said.