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KLM 'resurrects' the 747

Aviation Updates Philippines – More than a week after KLM embarked on its last Boeing 747 flight, the Amsterdam-based carrier announced Thursday it will temporarily reinstate two Boeing 747-400(M) Combi aircraft into active service to haul essential medical supplies from China.
THE 747 COMBI. According to KLM, it will redeploy two Boeing 747-400(M) Combi aircraft to establish a special air link between Netherlands and China. Photo from KLM, Mark Wagtendonk
KLM President and CEO Pieter Elbers said: “I believe it is incredibly important that KLM can be of service to broader Dutch society in this time of crisis, by way of our flexibility, creativity, and cooperation with partners. This is perfectly exemplified by the initiative from Philips to join hands with KLM in seeking a solution for freeing up cargo capacity between Europe and China for essential medical supplies. I am very proud that the professional and dedicated staff of both companies have managed to realize this initiative at such short notice.”

In a Facebook post, KLM said it partnered with electronics company Philips and the Dutch government to establish a special air bridge between the Netherlands and China. The link will enable KLM to cope with the increased cargo demand between the two countries.

"Because of the major shortage of cargo capacity, two Boeing 747 Combi’s will temporarily take to the sky again," the world's oldest airline said.

KLM's Boeing 747 Combi fleet can fly up to 268 passengers in a dual-class configuration. The aircraft can fly both cargo and passengers in one cabin. The rear section of the fuselage can be fitted with up to seven large pallets of cargo, according to the airline's website.

Due to the downfall of the travel and tourism industry given the COVID-19 pandemic, KLM has been currently operating with a "skeletal schedule" since March 29, 2020. Furthermore, the KLM Cargo/Martinair freighters supplement the existing operations with services to North Atlantic routes.

In early March, the airline publicized its plans to retire the Boeing 747 fleet by April 2020. The 90-percent decline in flights compelled KLM to scheduled the retirement a year earlier than expected. The last Boeing 747 passenger flight was on March 27, 2020, from Mexico to Amsterdam.

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