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KLM returns to Tehran and launches Windhoek

As Iran slowly begins to reintegrate back into the international community, Tehran is booming with new carriers coming into a newly opened (lucrative) market. British Airways did it first. Then Air France, Austrian and Lufthansa followed. And now KLM is arriving at the party.

Having previously operated flights into the country then subsequently suspending them as the political situation deteriorated in Iran, KLM is now re-introducing flights to the capital Tehran.

The airline has announced that it will be operating 4x weekly flights into Tehran from the Dutch capital of Amsterdam, all on 777-200 equipment. Schedule is as follows:

– KL433 dep. AMS 17.40 – ar. IKA 01.20 B772 Tue, Thu, Fri, Sun
– KL434 dep. IKA 03.20 – arr. AMS 06.45 B772 Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat

It increasingly looks as if Tehran will boom as a potential tourist and business destination (and why wouldn’t it, historically it has always been an important hub in the region) and KLM is getting a slice of an ever increasing cake.

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Concurrent to this announcement was the introduction, for the first time, of flights into Namibia for KLM. The airline announced new flights to Windhoek, serving as a tag on to their existing flights to Luanda. Angola is a notoriously difficult market to operate into – yes, it is massively lucrative, hence foreign carriers tripping over themselves to obtain rights to fly into the country. But the government is famously stingy in doling out these rights, and most foreign airlines operate very meager frequencies into LAD – KL currently goes at it at 2x weekly – BA, AF and IB are all the same. TAP and Emirates at at 3x weekly.

To offset the massive costs of laying over crew for that long at a city as expensive as Luanda, KL is tagging on Windhoek to their Luanda flights – perhaps in a bid to grab some ancestral German traffic to Namibia and fill up the Y cabin that more often than not goes out close to empty on Angola flights. BA had recently released some eye catching numbers for their LAD ops – their 2x weekly flight from Heathrow was operated in a 4 class configuration with both F and J available and the flight had averaged about 75 passengers one way – with F and J full, and Y having no more than 5-10 passengers. Keep in mind that an average RT fare for the 9 hour flight in J was about $12,000.

Its easy to see why airlines persist with Luanda as it is one of the highest yielding destinations in the world – and while it is a huge challenge to work with the Angolan government the costs do seem to be worth it (BA keeps their 777 on the ground in LAD for 12 hours to turn it around back to LHR at an appropriate time). With this move KLM keeps their aircraft on the ground in WDH rather than LAD (cheaper ground handling costs), can fill up the cheap seats with passengers headed to Namibia, and can lay the crew over in Windhoek which over the long run will be exponentially cheaper than keeping them in Luanda.

This also means another, much more direct option for Skyteam elites based in Europe and North America – up till now the only option in alliance would have been a circuitous routing through Europe then Nairobi through Kenya Airways. Surely this new KL flight is the most seamless way for a SkyTeam passenger to get to Angola than ever offered before.

A win-win-win-win situation for KL.

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