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Dutch airline kicks off Taipei-Amsterdam nonstop flight

2012/03/26 21:13:43

Taipei, March 26 (CNA) KLM Asia, a Taiwan-registered subsidiary of the Netherlands' KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, kicked off direct nonstop flights between Taipei and Amsterdam on Monday to become the first European airline to offer nonstop flights between Taiwan and Europe.

The airline will offer a daily round-trip flight on the route. The nonstop flights are expected to save passengers an average of 3.5 hours of travel time in each direction, said the company, which has operated flights to and from Taiwan since 1983.

In the past, passengers taking KLM Asia between Taipei and Amsterdam had to make a stopover in Bangkok.

As part of the new schedule, the airline will stop operating direct flights between Amsterdam and Manila, with flights between the two destinations transiting through Taipei.

Pieter J.Th. Elbers, chief operating officer of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, said in Taipei Monday that the nonstop route will bring new opportunities to stimulate trade and tourism between Taiwan and the Netherlands and enhance KLM's cooperation with its Sky Team partner China Airlines.

China Airlines, Taiwan's largest international carrier, joined the Sky Team alliance, one of the world's three major airline alliances, last September to become its 15th member.

Elbers said KLM expects to see some 80,000 passengers traveling to and from Taipei on the direct route each year, an increase of around 50 percent from the past.

A number of factors prompted the airline to make the route nonstop, Elbers said, including increasingly close business ties between Taiwan and the Netherlands and the offering of visa waiver treatment to Taiwan by several European countries last year.

Frederic Kahane, general manager of Greater China for Air France-KLM, KLM's parent company, said Asia and the Greater China area are important markets for the airline.

"The weight of the world is shifting to the East," said Kahane, adding that offering nonstop flights to Taiwan fits the company's strategy to expand into Asia.

The flights will be operated using Boeing 777-200 and 777-300 aircraft, which offer around 300 and 400 seats, respectively.

(By Christie Chen)