Despite an unprofitable fourth quarter, KLM CEO Marjan Rintel looks back with satisfaction on the past year. In it, the airline recovered very quickly from the coronavirus pandemic. KLM paid off the coronavirus loans from the government and also no longer needs the option to borrow in the future with State guarantees. This means the company is entirely on its own feet again. “We achieved a nice positive result in 2022 despite still difficult circumstances,” said Rintel, who took charge of the airline in July.
KLM suffered a loss in the last quarter due to 170 million euros in lost income caused by the problems at Schiphol and the quieter autumn period. The Dutch airline did achieve black figures for the whole of 2022, bouncing back strongly after two difficult Covid-19 years. KLM’s turnover amounted to 10.7 billion euros, close to its performance in 2019 before the pandemic. The airline’s capacity was still considerably lower than before the coronavirus prices, but increased ticket prices compensated for a lot. The operating profit amounted to 706 million euros.
The ongoing problems at Schiphol prevented KLM from transporting as many passengers as the company would have liked. “We have seen that people want to travel again, and we also want to offer our customers the service they deserve,” said Rintel. KLM wants to look further into the future. “We will scale up further in April or May.”
A possible stumbling point is that Schiphol wants to limit the number of departing passengers again, this time because there are not enough baggage handlers. “We are still discussing this with Schiphol,” Rintel explained. KLM has indicated for some time that it has enough people to handle all its baggage. Nevertheless, any reduction would also affect the Dutch national airline. “But we are still talking. It remains to be seen exactly what will happen.”
Air France-KLM, KLM’s parent company, wants to achieve 90 to 95 percent pre-pandemic capacity this year. There is room for that because the demand for air travel remains high, said Rintel. “We also see business travelers returning more and more,” said financial director Erik Swelheim.
The problems at Schiphol cost KLM 170 million euros in lost income in the fourth quarter. In the third quarter, that was already 175 million euros. In addition, KLM lost money on compensating travelers whose flights were canceled and on rebooking travelers on other flights, sometimes on competing airlines. The airline has made agreements with Schiphol on this point, said Swelheim. “But we have agreed not to make any further announcements about that.
He and CEO Rintel prefer to look ahead. KLM plans to purchase newer aircraft that are quieter and emits less CO2. But more staff will also have to be recruited to support their further recovery. “We are working hard on this in all kinds of areas,” said Rintel. “It is a difficult labor market, but we can see that we are still an attractive employer.”
Reporting by ANP and NL Times