KLM adding nonstop service between D/FW and Amsterdam

Sep. 28--KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will begin daily flights between Amsterdam and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport next year, giving North Texans nonstop service to Europe from all three global airline alliances.

The arrival of KLM and its SkyTeam alliance will put it in competition with the Oneworld alliance, whose members American Airlines Inc. and British Airways PLC fly to Europe from D/FW, and Star Alliance principal Lufthansa AG, which has service to Frankfurt, Germany.

D/FW Airport chief executive Jeff Fegan estimated that a new international carrier starting service to Europe has a $125 million economic impact annually for North Texas.

"This is really a special day for D/FW Airport and for North Texas," Mr. Fegan said.

The new service starts March 30, the same day that American and British Airways begin flying between D/FW and London's Heathrow Airport, a change that should improve connections to flights beyond London to British Airways' other destinations.

American and British Airways picked March 30 because that is the date a new airline treaty opening air service between the U.S. and European Union countries goes into effect, superseding an old treaty that kept D/FW-London flights at Gatwick Airport.

However, the Netherlands and the United States signed an "open skies" treaty more than 10 years ago to allow more flights between their countries. KLM picked March 30 to start because that's the date that International Air Transport Association members start their summer schedules.

KLM executives Jan Willem Smeulers and Pieter Elbers said KLM will be able to offer D-FW travelers easy and quick connections at Amsterdam to 78 other cities in Europe, plus to 28 cities in the Middle East, Africa and India.

Mr. Elbers, KLM's senior vice president of network, said that although KLM and partner Northwest Airlines Inc. expect some leisure travelers, the success of the route will probably depend on business traffic.

"We do see both components," Mr. Elbers said. "Obviously, markets with very little business potential are difficult to operate. That's why we as an alliance are not operating into Orlando, for example. That's more a leisure destination. The whole schedule is geared to the business traveler."

However, European leisure travelers may be attracted by the ease of Amsterdam connections to D/FW, he said.

Mr. Smeulers said travelers can expect promotional fares to launch the service, and regular pricing not out of line with what competitors are charging.

"We'll be competitive, but of course we'll introduce the flights with some oomph," he said.

The new route gives D/FW Airport service to 38 international destinations.

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