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Dutch king has piloted KLM flights for two decades

May 19, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

If you’ve flown in Europe with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines anytime over the past couple of decades, your co-pilot just may have been the Dutch king, Willem-Alexander.

In an interview with Amsterdam newspaper De Telegraaf this week, King Willem-Alexander revealed that he recently ended his role as a regular “guest pilot” after 21 years on KLM’s fleet of Fokker 70 aircraft. The only reason he gave up was to re-train to fly KLM’s B737s, as the Fokkers are being phased out.

Before that, the king worked for Dutch carrier Martinair – carrying on his royal duties throughout and flying about once a fortnight, always as co-pilot, a position sometimes called first officer.

Willem-Alexander, King of the Netherlands

KLM currently uses its Fokker 70s to fly between Amsterdam and cities in Germany, Belgium, Britain and Switzerland.

King Willem-Alexander, 50, has three children and is king to 17 million Dutch citizens.

“You have an aircraft, passengers and crew,” he told the newspaper.

“You have responsibility for them. You can’t take your problems from the ground into the skies. You can completely disengage and concentrate on something else. That, for me, is the most relaxing part of flying.”

The king said passengers seldom recognise him – perhaps because he is in KLM uniform and not dressed as below.

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima on the king’s inauguration day in 2013


MEANWHILE, in a footnote, Air France KLM has just posted a healthy first quarter result, with solid traffic performance. The number of passengers carried grew by 5.2% to 20.9 million and revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) grew 4.2% leading to an 0.7% load factor improvement.

Written by Peter Needham

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