Party as if you just turned 100! KLM celebrates its centenary
On 7th October 2019 KLM became the first airline to reach the venerable age of 100. No wonder that the Dutch flag-carrier has dedicated abundant resources to celebrate this unprecedented feat.
In addition to the prominent “100” that has been added the livery of many of its aircraft, there are a number of other ways that KLM is using its new status as a centenary airline to remind the world of its traditions as well as its intention to continue investing to update its product and service to the requirements of the modern traveler.
KLM’s CEO, Pieter Elbers, welcomed numerous guests at a venue right next to Schiphol airport and offered an overview not just of the airline’s remarkable past, but also of the projects it has in the pipeline for the years ahead.
Sustainability is the word of the day, and with environmental concerns taking center stage, KLM wants to make sure that is up to the challenge. But do not expect sudden disruption, look instead for gradual improvements that make flying more efficient and, therefore, cleaner.
The Party - KLM Experience
The action then moved to Hangar 10, a facility on the edge of Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, that had been converted into the “KLM Experience”: an indoors KLM-themed festival.
At this event, visitors (mostly KLM staff and other guests invited by the airline) were able to learn about different aspects of the airline, test new technologies, participate in all sorts of interactive games, shop for KLM memorabilia or, simply, enjoy the casual and joyful mood that pervaded the place.
One of the highlights of the “KLM Experience” was a mockup of the “Flying V”, an ultra-efficient aircraft concept devised by the Delft Technical University (with inputs from KLM). Do not expect it at an airport near you anytime soon, but it is interesting to see how completely different aircraft designs could work.
But the party had also plenty of stuff related to the past and present of the airline. After all, it is not every day that one turns 100!
From board games to historical uniforms. The KLM Experience was like a walk through the past, present and (prospective) future of the airline, with plenty of interactive, immersive activities in a thoroughly festive atmosphere.
KLM Delft House #100
Last but not least, the anniversary celebration provided the perfect opportunity for the presentation of KLM’s 100th Delftware miniature house. These little ceramic houses, handmade in the traditional Dutch style and handed out to business class passengers on long haul flights, have become a sought-after collector’s item.
An amazing music and dance performance, that included, of course, the interpretation of the “Happy Birthday" song, preceded the unveiling of KLM’s Delft House #100.
KLM released the first of these houses in 1952 and have been releasing one per year since then, but at some point in the 1990s, they decided to launch several houses in one year so that their number could match that of the airline’s anniversaries.
The “centenary” Delft house is a reproduction of the residence where Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima live.
The event saw also the presentation of the official KLM centenary book, titled “Welcome Aboard – 100 years of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines”, a richly illustrated hardcover edition that narrates in great detail a century of KLM - Royal Dutch Airlines.