CEO Column


Date: 3 November 2020

Dear colleagues,

The First Page of a New Chapter

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 a lot has been asked of KLM colleagues. Our common goal, KLM's survival through this unprecedented crisis, has made great demands on flexibility, perseverance and stamina. I mentioned this earlier: “This unprecedented time requires unprecedented and unusual processes”. I realize that this is difficult and requires adaptation and understanding from everyone. None of us have any experience with this extreme situation, not as management, not as unions, not as government and not collectively. So each of us individually and together have to find a way to come to a solution together, and that is going to take a lot of falling down and getting up. After a couple of incredibly intensive days, yesterday the FNV (Ground and Cabin) and today the VNV (Pilots) signed the “commitment clause”. An appropriate solution has been found for both unions without modifying the content of the commitment clause and the labour condition contribution. These commitments give substance to the labour condition contribution of all KLM colleagues during the duration of the support package (expected to be 5 years). The result is that all 8 unions have now signed the commitment clause. As a result, KLM has fulfilled an important condition set by the government to be eligible for further government support in the form of loans and guarantees. The way is now open for the Minister to reach a decision and to inform the Cabinet and the Lower House of parliament about the support plan being made available. The past few days have been incredibly hard and difficult for many colleagues. I'm talking about the enormous pressure on our company, the worrying deadlock that arose on Saturday and the media attention. It has all been far from good for the reputation of KLM and its staff. Mutual tension between colleagues is also bad for internal relations and bad for our blue family. However, I would urge you to get back together as a family after a stressful period: we talk it out, we show respect for each other and then we get along with each other again.

In addition to messages from anxious or angry colleagues, there is also an internal call for solidarity and unity. I found the following hashtag a beautiful example #KLMreddenwesamen. Because that's what it's all about. Only if we work together and pursue the same goal – to make KLM a healthy company again – will we be able to get through this crisis. That won't work if we just look at our own situation. Anyone who looks at it from a broader perspective sees a greater importance, for KLM, for Schiphol, for the Netherlands.

Looking ahead and beyond The advantage of evaluation is that one can learn from the past events. Above all, now is the time to look ahead and beyond. We have spent a lot of time together, but the challenges are happening outside. After all, in the meantime, the new wave of lockdowns in Europe is causing a further decline in traffic. In my column on 30 October about the results for the third quarter, I’ve already said a lot about this. So from now on, let's join forces again and do what an airline has to do: put the customer first and get back together again to produce a good product that does justice to a 101-year-old airline. So let's close the ranks again and pull our weight together. We are still proud to be the oldest. Let's stay that way!