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‎SCHIPHOL - From a modest start with a handful of domestic routes, to a major player who takes care of an important part of KLM's Europe network. In a nutshell, this is how KLM Cityhopper has developed over the past 55 years. The regional subsidiary, which started in 1966 as the NLM, is indispensable at Schiphol.‎

‎On Sunday (12 September), KLM will celebrate the 55th anniversary of its subsidiary KLM Cityhopper, although the first flights were operated on 29 August 1966. The Dutch Aviation Company (NLM) started with two Fokker F-27 Troopships rented from the Royal Netherlands Air Force with flights to Maastricht via Eindhoven and to Groningen via Enschede. ‎

‎Domestic flights were not new: in the thirties and in the years after the Second World War, KLM already maintained a domestic route network, but that soon proved to be no longer profitable. Due to the economic development of the south, east and north of the Netherlands and the population growth in these regions, there was again a need for a domestic network of fast air connections from the sixties onwards.‎

‎In the annual report 1966-1967, the KLM management spoke of a 'satisfactory' result with an average load factor of 46 percent on the northern line and 35 percent on the southern line in the first half of the year. The lines were primarily opened to accommodate the business community in their need for fast connections. But there was also another target group: the youth. KLM wanted to make it possible for young people to get acquainted with aviation. In addition to the scheduled flights, the NLM also provided many sightseeing flights.‎

‎The NLM did not only limited the flights to the Netherlands. For example, additional Fokker F-27s joined the fleet and international destinations such as Bremen and Hamburg were added to the route network. In 1976, when the NLM celebrated its tenth anniversary, 'CityHopper' was added to the name. With this name it was the intention to be clearly recognizable as a brand abroad and to be able to distinguish itself.‎

‎An important milestone was in 1978 the delivery of the first jet aircraft to NLM CityHopper: the Fokker F-28 Fellowship. Of that type, the company received four. A black day in the existence of NLM CityHopper was 6 October 1981: at Moerdijk an F-28 crashed en route from Rotterdam to Eindhoven during a severe thunderstorm. All seventeen occupants were killed; a firefighter on the ground who saw the accident happen succumbed to a heart attack.‎

‎From the regional Dutch airports, NLM CityHopper operated flights to various European destinations. At Schiphol, the airline slowly but surely developed into a 'feeder' for transfer passengers at Schiphol. In 1988 KLM acquired the regional Dutch airline Netherlines. In 1991, both KLM subsidiaries were merged under the name KLM Cityhopper. In 1988, KLM had also taken a stake in the British regional airline Air UK, which came into full Dutch hands at the end of the nineties and eventually merged into KLM Cityhopper.‎

‎'New' Fokkers‎
‎In the first year under the new name KLM Cityhopper, the network consisted of 36 destinations. Domestically, only flights were flown from Schiphol to Eindhoven and Maastricht. From Rotterdam, Eindhoven and Maastricht, KLM Cityhopper flew to cities such as London and Paris. The familiar F-27s had now been replaced by new Fokker 50s, while smaller Saab 340s were also used on less busy routes until the late nineties. The Fokker 70, of which ten were ordered, was from 1996 the logical replacement of the F-28.‎

‎Even after fokker's bankruptcy, KLM Cityhopper continued to fly fully with aircraft from the Dutch aircraft manufacturer. Used Fokkers were purchased all over the world. In 2006 the fleet consisted of 55 Fokker aircraft, of which 20 Fokker 100's, 21 Fokker 70's and 14 Fokker 50's. The number of European destinations had increased to more than 45 and five million passengers were carried each year at that time. In the meantime it was already known that the Fokkers would be replaced.‎

‎The choice fell on the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer. KLC chose the E190, a device with 100 seats. The fuel consumption of these slim twin-engine aircraft was clearly lower than that of the Fokkers and the aircraft were just as large as the Fokker 100 with a hundred seats. In November 2008, the first Embraer 190 arrived at Schiphol. From 2016, the smaller E175+, with room for 88 passengers, also joined the fleet.‎

‎While Embraers were put into use, more and more Fokkers left the fleet. The last Fokker 50 was taken out of service in 2010, the last Fokker 100 in 2012. On 28 October 2017, KLM Cityhopper operated the very last Fokker 70 flights. The Fokker era had come to an end after many decades, but the fleet renewal was not yet complete. In February, KLM Cityhopper received the very first E195-E2: a quieter, more fuel-efficient and longer version of the E190, which can carry 132 passengers. ‎

‎Recovery after lockdown‎
‎KLM Cityhopper played an important role in the recovery of the route network after the first lockdown in the spring of 2020. Because passenger volumes were still low, KLM decided to use KLM Cityhopper's small Embraers on intra-European routes that were normally operated with Boeing 737s. KLM cabin crew were even seconded to KLC. ‎
‎KLC also operates to new destinations that KLM added to its route network this year, such as Dubrovnik, Verona and Mallorca.‎

‎In 55 years, nlm grew from a small airline with only 22 employees and two rented aircraft to a mature company with a fleet of 53 aircraft, which today with 80 destinations accounts for a large part of all European flights in the KLM network.‎

Source,Luchtvaart nieuws.
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