VIDEO: KLM plans to soar passenger numbers at Leeds Bradford Airport
KLM airline boss Warner Rootliep has revealed plans to soar passenger numbers at Leeds Bradford Airport - establishing it as Yorkshire's gateway to the world.
Around 180,000 passengers travelled on its planes between LBA and Amsterdam in the past year, with more than half flying on to KLM’s global network of over 150 destinations.
Now he hopes to drive up its LBA numbers towards 200,000 passengers a year with the possibility of bigger planes and more flights which will further boost tourism and the local economy, says Mr Rootliep, general manager of Air France-KLM for UK & Ireland.
KLM currently operates three flights a day from LBA to Amsterdam.
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In an exclusive chat - watch the interview at the top of this page - Mr Rootliep outlined KLM's special ongoing relationship with the airport for the past 32 years and praised LBA's own ongoing investment.
As KLM prepares to celebrate its 100th birthday in 2019, as the oldest airline in the world still operating under its original name, he said its future plans include working closely with LBA as a key site in the UK.
He said: "In the past year we have transported about 180,000 people to and from Leeds Bradford Airport. About 60 per cent travel on our network via Amsterdam to destinations as far as Asia, Africa, USA and Latin America.
"It would be nice if we could push towards 200,000 people - with bigger aircraft or additional frequency, which would offer even better connections in Amsterdam."
Mr Rootliep said KLM's centenary will be celebrated with "massive events" and added: " The very first flight we operated as KLM was from London. One in five people who travel on our network touch the UK and Leeds Bradford is one of the key elements of our 17 routes which we operate in the UK - we call ourselves the domestic home carrier of the UK and that's what we will try to expand on."
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, which operates scheduled passenger and cargo services, is the flag carrier airline of the Netherlands, based in Amstelveen, with its hub at nearby Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. It is part of the Air France–KLM group, and is a member of the SkyTeam airline alliance.
LBA's new chief executive David Laws said: “We are proud to work closely with KLM and it’s great to see the success of the up to three time daily KLM connections to Amsterdam and beyond; ensuring that Leeds Bradford Airport connects the region with the world.
"The route is essential for leisure and business passengers and we look forward to working closely with KLM to further enhance and grow this very important part of our route network.”