How one of Europe's biggest airlines ferries new aircraft across the Atlantic.
When Dutch airline KLM takes delivery of a new aircraft from U.S. manufacturer Boeing, Hans Feenstra, the aerospace operations manager for the group, receives the planning for the handover a year in advance.
KLM, part of the Air France-KLM group, sends pilots and mechanics over to Seattle. This acceptance team will inspect, test and accept the aircraft. They will also bring the plane back from Seattle to Schiphol airport in the Netherlands.
Feenstra, who has managed logistics for the airline for the past 15 years, needs to move fast. The newly-acquired plane is typically scheduled to serve passengers within just one day of its arrival in Amsterdam. “Delays caused by technical or administrative problems can prove very costly,” says Feenstra.
By the end of this year alone, KLM will have taken delivery of 12 new Boeing aircraft, including three Boeing 777s.
KLM was one of the few airlines who kept on investing in new aircraft during the crisis. Not only fuel cost was a reason for replacement of the fleet, but also a combination of lower maintenance cost, increased passenger comfort and reduced CO2 emission. The environmental aspect is very important for AFKL and the group is ranked number one in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the sixth consecutive year.
As airlines like KLM speed up the renewal of their fleet, they are also searching for more efficient ways to take delivery of the aircraft from U.S.-based Boeing, including management of the customs formalities.
In the past, for example, Feenstra would have flown to Seattle to oversee the new deliveries and take care of customs clearance of the aircraft, shipments and immigration forms for crew and passengers. Today, KLM outsources that logistic role to SDV, saving the airline time and money.
Basically, SDV takes care of all export documents related to the aircraft and any eventual cargo. “This helps ensure a smooth and speedy delivery”, says Laurent Chantegros, SDV's aerospace manager for the U.S.. “Having SDV present for each aircraft delivery also ensures a constant level of support and service that helps KLM respects its tight schedules”, he adds.
Feenstra agrees. “Having local assistance for logistics is a major asset that helps us avoid potential problems,” he says. “It allows our engineers and pilots to focus on their core job, instead of being distracted by other activities.”
For SDV, taking part in the logistics of the aircraft's delivery goes beyond the transport of general cargo. “It's not every day that we get to participate in red-ribbon ceremonies,” Chantegros says."