Tonight marks the end of the IATA Summer 2016 schedule, with changes galore throughout the aviation world. The seasonal shift brings new callsigns (regional carrier Endeavor Air is switching from “Flagship” to “Endeavor,” a significant downgrade if you ask me) and new route authorities (US carriers will operate from Tokyo‘s Haneda airport with daytime flights). The seasonal shift also marks scheduled aircraft shifts. In the case of KLM it is a change to the twin-aisle service the company operates to St. Maarten, one of the Dutch outposts in the Caribbean.
No more will the baby blue 747 be seen touching down over Maho beach, to the delight of sunbathers and AvGeeks alike. The carrier is moving towards the retirement of the 747 from its fleet and also increasing winter capacity to the Caribbean. Going forward SXM will see a 3x weekly KLM A330 arriving from Amsterdam.
As for how a switch from the 747 to an A330 is an increase in capacity, that’s all about the overall schedule. Typically the 747 would arrive in from Amsterdam and then make the short hop over to Curacao before returning to Amsterdam. With the Winter 2016/17 schedule Curacao will keep the 747 service as a non-stop flight in both directions while the A330 is added 3x weekly to Amsterdam. Nonstop service is arguably better for passengers than the one-stop option, but I’ll still miss the 747s on Maho beach. They sure were fun to watch.
In something of an ironic twist the KLM flight doesn’t operate on Saturdays so the final 747 actually operated on Friday. Sunday will be the first A330-200 under the new schedule.
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