KLM On-time Performance

OPS Award Winner Interview: Bart de Vries, Head of Flight Operations at KLM

Managing irregular operations is one of the biggest challenges for airlines today. Many events that are beyond an airline’s control can result in severe cancellations or delays, such as inclement weather, labor actions, technical problems, fires, or other natural disasters. Even something as simple as a spill on a carpet near an exit area will hold up a plane.

Our years of experience in the aviation industry has created a deep appreciation for how difficult it is to get passengers from point A to point B promptly and safely. It is our belief that airlines do not get nearly enough credit for the work they do.

Eight years ago, we started the Annual On-Time Performance Service Awards to shed a positive light on airlines as well as give the best of best the acknowledgment they deserve. Additionally, we aimed to provide an example of success to others in the industry. One such success story is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, our 2016 winner of the Most On-time Major International Airline Network.

Throughout the years, KLM has maintained consistently high on-time performance, ranking in the top five for the Major International Airline category since 2011. They have earned two OPS Awards in the past: Most On-time Major International Airline of 2014 and Most On-time Major European Airline of 2013. This past year, KLM was named the Most On-time Major International Airline Network with an on-time performance of 88.53%.

All divisions of KLM make major contributions to their punctuality, from ground services to cabin crew. We sat down with Bart de Vries, Head of Flight Operations at KLM, to discuss what on-time performance means to his airline.

What does winning an OPS Award mean to your airline?

Bart de Vries: We see winning the OPS Award as a wonderful acknowledgment of all our efforts in safety, punctuality and customer focus. We want to continue to give our customers a safe and pleasant travel experience in the coming year as well.

How is on-time performance important to your airline?

Bart de Vries: Punctuality plays a significant role in our customers’ travel experience and is also essential for efficient business operations. Many of our customers travel through our Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, so on-time arrivals and departures help ensure that their transfer will be smooth. The award is an important recognition for all KLM staff who work on this every day.

How has being an OPS winner made an impact on your business?

Bart de Vries: KLM trusts that winning this award will be noticed by many people in- and outside of the travel industry thus contributing in a positive way to the strong KLM brand.

How have you managed to achieve such consistently high levels of performance?

Bart de Vries: All KLM staff–from ground staff and maintenance personnel to cabin and flight crew–all have a commitment to our customers and our company, and they all have worked very hard to achieve this operational performance. We can only have the deepest respect and appreciation for all of them.

KLM has invested in innovation and process improvements over the last few years. Many of our frontline staff carry iPads with e-tools that help them solve problems on the spot, resulting in better customer service and more robust operational processes.

Overall, our results are improving. We are reducing costs, there is more leverage for investment and customer satisfaction is rising. In short, KLM has regained its enterprising spirit!

To continue growing, we will increase investment levels in line with our objectives and our ambition of becoming the most customer-centric, innovative and efficient network carrier in Europe. Winning the OPS Award is, as we stated earlier, an important acknowledgment of our efforts to become even more customer-centric.

How do you maintain your on-time performance while having codeshare and network partners?

Bart de Vries: KLM and its codeshare partners manage the codeshare relationship through a codeshare contract and operational annexes which cover a broad range of operational and branding aspects. Although punctuality is not explicitly covered, operational performance is closely monitored and forms an integral part of the cooperation. We review it on a regular basis.

Getting OTP data from a third party

When an airline makes a statement about their operations, they’re often met with skepticism. With all due respect to airlines, many people are distrusting by nature and often doubt that carriers will report accurate information. It can prevent a lot of headaches to use a company like FlightStats to report on-time performance metrics.

Both airlines and their customers can trust that we will report an accurate, reliable ranking of flight status information. This is especially useful to airlines that want to make on-time performance commitments to their corporate customers or tout their impressive on-time performance ranking in marketing materials. Using a third party source like FlightStats provides instant credibility.

Accomplishing more with OTP

Our free monthly on-time performance reports and annual OPS Awards are just the beginning of what you can access. We offer an OTP Analysis Workbook that provides a comprehensive and granular analysis of the major performance metrics. These workbooks include visualizations and reports focusing on airline and alliance benchmarking, departure and arrival statistics, trend analysis, carrier performance comparison, and daily/hourly analysis. Reviewing these metrics will reveal the strengths and weaknesses of your airline and your competitors. With our data, you can continue to improve your operations and maybe even win one of our OPS Awards next year.