Dear Colleagues,

While writing this column we are again in a hard lockdown in the Netherlands as are many other countries. In recent weeks, the good news about vaccines and bookings during the Christmas period gave us renewed hope. Hope for recovery, hope for improvement, hope for customers on board and hope for KLM aircraft to be in the air again. The recent measures are another major step backwards. A huge disappointment. But we must not lose hope! This is my last column in 2020. The one at the end of December 2019 was entitled “2019, the year of the century”. How short or how long a year can be is proven by the year that is now behind us. The year was short because it was only a year ago that we celebrated KLM’s 100th anniversary. And how? KLM sizzled with a zest for life! Who would have thought then that only a few months later we would be in the grip of a pandemic. A crisis that would change the world, and everything for everyone, so drastically. At the same time, the year also felt long, very long, it seems as if the world stood still. As we look at the images and internal communication with empty departure halls, parked aircraft, empty offices and a closed engine shop. No one has ever experienced this before and sometimes it all looks and feels surreal. Looking back at my earlier columns and videos from the year makes me realise once again what a bizarre year this has been. The road to recovery is delayed and unfortunately not linear. We now fly to 90 percent of our destinations, but our capacity is at only half the pre-COVID situation. There’s still a long way to go. The recent government measures until March 2021 will put pressure on the planned further scaling up of flights and necessitate us to use a new production scenario for 2021. I indicated earlier that another 10% less production means a further reduction of 1,500 jobs. That will again demand a lot from us to find solutions. Despite the difficult year, there is also a sense of pride. The lockdown that started in March has stimulated our flexibility, creativity and ingenuity and put our perseverance to the test. KLM colleagues who could not do their job, dedicated themselves to providing care, where the need was greatest, or showed in some other way that they were involved with those having difficulties. I am also proud of the KLM colleagues who came together within the company and helped wherever needed, such as in our cargo division. KLM colleagues from the entire organisation are working to handle the large volumes of cargo. KLM transports millions of face masks, medical devices and equipment that find their way around the world thanks to our cargo business. I would also like to mention the repatriation flights. In the initial period, KLM brought home more than a quarter of a million stranded passengers and reunited them with their loved ones. A lot of demands have been placed on our people. And we as KLM have delivered! There is a feeling of pride in this especially wonderful achievement. In short, we worked hard, often under difficult and challenging circumstances and without any clear solution in sight. With this uncertainty in mind, everyone put their best foot forward. I have great respect and admiration for that. And for that I would like to thank everyone: for your commitment, for the energy, for the perseverance and for the Blue Heart, where all of the Netherlands can see that our KLM colleagues wear in the right place. This Blue Spirit is the foundation on which we will fight our way through this crisis. A solid foundation. The year 2020 was also the year in which we had to say goodbye to a great number of colleagues. COVID-19 put a heavy burden on our operation and this quickly translated into the departure of many motivated, experienced and committed colleagues. That pains my heart, but its inevitability was also clear. To the outside world, we often made the news with positive headlines. Repatriation flights, the transportation of medical equipment and singing stewardesses on CNN. And internally there were positive messages with the blue heart too (We are KLM for you) and #KLMreddenweSAMEN. Unfortunately, we were also portrayed less positively in the news on a few occasions. This unprecedented crisis has also regrettably brought with it unprecedented steps. Everyone had to take their own responsibility for this. It has also put pressure on solidarity. I don’t want to dwell on it, but it has to be said. However, the blue family can take a punch and together we will work to put that behind us again in 2021. That is my commitment. Because now there is hope on the horizon. The development of multiple vaccines is progressing rapidly. That will make 2021 a better year than 2020. Vaccination means safety and more freedom of movement, without fear. It is then a great honour for KLM to play an important role in the distribution of these vaccines. Even before the crisis, our cargo division was one of the largest carriers of pharmaceutical products in the world. Our cargo colleagues are ready for it! These vaccines in the cargo hold of the aircraft will enable us to welcome more customers in the upper part of the aircraft. And that makes us hopeful. KLM will use 2021 to rebuild the company, full of energy and dedication. Ultimately, a smaller KLM will emerge, but one that is more efficient, sustainable and innovative than before. From more, to better. This was also one of the conditions set by the government to grant KLM the necessary loans to ensure its survival. But it is also an aspiration that stems from our being, the core of our organisation, and forms our raison d’être. This is the result of our passengers’ choice for a reliable, safe and comfortable KLM. Last week, KLM received the 5-star Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) status for the second year in a row, based on global customer ratings. We can be incredibly proud of that! It also shows how important it is to continue investing in the customer. To keep up with customer needs, we will introduce Premium Economy and provide direct aisle access to all our World Business Class passengers. These product investments will contribute to KLM’s recovery. Dear colleagues, the year is still two weeks long, or rather fortunately short, because I can’t wait until 2021 is here and we can put this rough year behind us. 2020 is a year to never and quickly forget. An unprecedented crisis that affects us so deeply and demands so much from everyone. I would like to thank everyone once again for their wonderful efforts under these difficult circumstances. We will spend the holidays in small circles. Me too, at home with the family. Like many of my colleagues, I really need that. Looking back on 2020, but especially looking forward, because there is light at the end of this dark COVID tunnel. “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier’...’ With this in mind, I wish everyone happy holidays, a prosperous, hopeful and especially a healthy 2021!