Both KLM and Avianca have added flights between Colombia and Europe. The rapidly growing tourist industry in Colombia is driving airlines to add more flights to the country. KLM has started direct flights from Amsterdam to Bogotá and Cali in Colombia and Avianca is starting daily service between Bogotá and London beginning in July. The additional international flights provide many options for connections to additional cities in Europe with both Amsterdam and London being major connection hubs.
The new flights from KVM also provide options from other cities in Colombia, as it is easy to get to Bogotá for connections from many cities in Colombia. For example, Bogotá is only about a 40-minute flight from Medellín with many flights each day.
The new flights follow a trend of international flights to Colombia being added with Aeromexico recently adding flights between Medellín and Mexico City and Avianca also starting flights between Bogotá and Los Angeles.
KLM Returns to Colombia after a 20-year Absence
KLM previously had flights from Amsterdam to Bogotá from October 1992 until March 1995. Last Saturday, KLM had its inaugural flight for its new service from Amsterdam to Colombia. KLM’s new flight service to Colombia flies in a circle from Amsterdam to Bogotá to Cali and then back to Amsterdam. KLM flies three times a week on Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays operating a Boeing 777-200 as flight KL745. The airplane is configured with 318 seats, 249 in economy class, 35 in business class and 34 in economy comfort zone with an extra 10 cm of legroom and more space to lean back.
As KLM looks to grow, South America’s tourism growth and economic growth has caught the company’s interest. After KLM increased frequencies to Ecuador and added Santiago in Chile as a destination, expanding services to Colombia is part of the airline’s expansion strategy. However, it is a bit surprising why KLM decided on Cali as its second city in Colombia for its circle route as both Cartagena and Medellín are more popular cities in Colombia for foreign visitors.
KLM’s new flights from Amsterdam to Colombia have the following schedule:
- Depart Amsterdam at 12:30, arrive in Bogotá at 16:25
- Depart Bogotá at 17:55, arrive in Cali at 18:55
- Depart Cali at 20:35, arrive in Amsterdam at 14:15
Avianca launched direct flights between London Heathrow and Bogotá in July of last year with four flights per week. The flights to London have been very popular with a load factor of over 87%, which is driving the company to start offering daily flights to London Heathrow starting on July 1.
It took Avianca five years to add its London flights last year. Avianca started talking to the Heathrow airport in 2009. With Heathrow airport essentially being at full capacity, Avianca was forced to wait for suitable takeoff and landing slots to become available.
The London route currently uses an Airbus A-330 aircraft. Starting in July the aircraft will be upgraded to a Boeing B787-8 configured with 250 seats, 222 in economy and 28 in “lie-flat” business class.
Avianca’s schedule starting in July will be daily departures from London Heathrow (Terminal 2) at 22:40 local time arriving in Bogotá at 15:40 in the afternoon. Return fights depart from Bogotá at 23:25 arriving in London at 15:45 London time.
The Bottom Line
With a 14% increase in foreigners visiting Colombia in 2014, we are not surprised to see airlines adding more direct flights to Colombia. Colombia is one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in all of South America.
Avianca’s increased frequency of flights to London is nice, as I have needed to travel to London a couple times of the past several years on business and I could have avoided connections in the U.S. with Avianca’s service. KLM’s service to Amsterdam I also could have used, as I have traveled to Amsterdam on business as well.
We wouldn’t be surprised to see more international flights added by airlines over the next several years as the number of foreign visitors to Colombia is expected to continue to experience strong growth.