KLM Thalys

EUROPE: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Thalys have agreed to develop their joint AirRail product to further increase the number of air passengers who use high speed trains to travel between Brussels and Amsterdam Schiphol airport.

KLM already offers air passengers the option of using Thalys instead of a flights for Brussels – Schiphol connections, with between 20% and 25% of passengers choosing this option before the pandemic.

KLM and Thalys are now aiming to increase this, with the airline purchasing enough seats from Thalys from July 17 to make one of its daily flights between Brussels and Schiphol redundant.

But just making the train seats available is not enough to meet the needs of air passengers, KLM said.

Airline and railway IT systems need to be able to communicate with each other, and workarounds have been found to support check-in, boarding and rebooking passengers.

KLM would like to see baggage handling integrated, with passengers able to hand over checked baggage at the station for forwarding to their final destination, and trains having secure baggage compartments and efficient transfer procedures at Schiphol. This is not yet the case, and discussions are continuing. KLM would also like passengers arriving at Schiphol by rail to have a separate transit route to the gate.

‘Intermodality between air and rail plays an important role in achieving our growth ambitions’, said Thalys CEO Bertrand Gosselin on March 30. ‘The extension of the co-operation with KLM fits perfectly with this ambition. Together we are creating a product that combines rail and intercontinental flights to meet our customers’ expectations of an environmentally friendly alternative.’