KLM (KL) has been on an adding spree throughout their European network, announcing seven new destinations throughout 2016 for operations both this year and in 2017.
Thus far most of the cities they’ve announced are secondary cities as most major cities have already been tapped up by the Dutch national carrier, and this new add is no different – though it represents a very valuable add to both the airline’s and SkyTeam’s network for other reasons.
The 2017 Spring and Summer schedules have just been announced and KLM has revealed that the airline will begin new scheduled flights to Split, Croatia. This marks the airline’s first foray into the Adriatic coast of Croatia – KLM currently offers daily flights to the Croatian capital Zagreb.
It’s interesting that the airline chose Split over the more famous Dubrovnik, though through some research it seems as though Split is the higher yielding destination between the two – Split boasts more sweeping views and beaches of the eastern Dalmatian Coast and also is an easy access point to the more touristic Dubrovnik, a common jumping point for cruises across the Adriatic Sea. The city is also interesting in that it has a French influence in its architecture and culture given the (albeit brief) occupation of the French Empire in the city. It’s a unique mold of eastern and western European culture which makes it stands out as a ‘go to’ destination.
Split is also considered the second biggest city in Croatia behind the capital of Zagreb.
Starting April 22 KLM will begin 2x weekly services to Split, operating only on Saturdays and Sunday – this surely must be catering to either package or cruise traffic with such a limited weekend only frequency.
Come the summer, July 9 to be precise, flights will get onto normal scheduling and be flown 6x weekly – every day except Saturday. One again a hallmark of a higher end leisure destination. Flights will be flown on KLM’s European configured Boeing 737-700 which means 3-3 through the cabin with only the middle seat blocked for business class. Kind of a rude awakening for folks transiting in from KLM’s decent World Business Class product but we’ll take what we can get – and regardless, it’s the same for any of the other large Euro carriers anyway.
This is a big add for the SkyTeam network because as it stands, Split has no current SkyTeam carriers flying into it. Aeroflot had a seasonal service from Moscow but has since been temporarily discontinued. Furthermore the service was from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport rather than the city’s main international linking point, Moscow Domodedovo Airport so connections would be a pain (nigh impossible) to say the least, even within Aeroflot. Everyone and their mother would need to clear immigration which also means the need of a Russian visa. No thanks.
Split already has a oneworld member airline serving the city through a seasonal British Airways flight from London-Heathrow (another sign of the high yielding traffic of the destination) and several Star Alliance options through Lufthansa from Frankfurt and Munich, Austrian from Vienna, LOT Polish Airlines from Warsaw, Aegean Airlines from Athens and SAS operates from a host of Scandinavian cities including Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Billund, Stavanger, Helsinki and more during both the summer and winter months.
And of course you’ve got Star Alliance member Croatia Airlines, the hometown player that does flights from Split primarily to Zagreb multiple times daily alongside flights to Frankfurt, Rome, Athens, Belgrade, Berlin, Dusseldorf, London-Gatwick, London-Heathrow, Lyon, Paris-Charles De Gaulle, Skopje, Vienna and Zurich.
So suffice to say that Star has the best presence in the city and their frequent fliers are well covered, and with BA’s seasonal service at least oneworld has a token presence whereas SkyTeam has essentially no connecting options into an important holiday destination – till now.
KLM being the carrier to bring about the service also makes the most sense given the pretty seamless transfer opportunities they can offer through their great Amsterdam Schipol hub. Once the route goes to normal operations at 6x weekly it’ll prove to be a great gateway for SkyTeam elite folks like Joey who have been intending to plan a jaunt to Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast but thus far have been found wanting in viable SkyTeam options to the region.
So overall a great move by KLM!
SkyTeam elites out there – is this a game changer – can we expect to see you strolling the streets of Dubrovnik and Split or basking in the sun of the expansive beaches of the Dalmatian Coast come summer 2017?