A water arch ceremony welcomed the inaugural nonstop KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Las Vegas on Thursday.
The new service flies between McCarran International Airport and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol on Thursdays and Sundays and carries an estimated annual economic impact of $65 million, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. A third weekly flight will be added on Tuesdays beginning July 2.
It’s that economic impact that has LVCVA CEO Steve Hill excited about what the addition of KLM will mean.
“Las Vegas has grown as a business destination. We’re building 3 million square feet of meeting space right now to respond to the demand for meetings,” Hill said. “We hosted 24,000 meetings in Las Vegas last year; 6.5 million visitors came because of business. Vegas means business as well as fun, and it’s great when you can combine them.”
Clark County Department of Aviation Director Rosemary Vassiliadis said the diversity of Las Vegas helped draw KLM and the new nonstop international service.
“There’s is a lot happening here,” Vassiliadis said. “Conventions, business meetings as well as the fabulous resorts and wide variety of entertainment. That was, I think, the selling point.”
KLM USA general manager Stephane Ormand said demand for the service has been strong, with additional flights possible in the future.
“The start is extremely good for us in terms of perspective,” Ormand said. “If it’s improving, we of course would increase the frequency. The more the better it is for leisure customers, and even better for business customers.”
Adding more service to transport convention-goers to large events like CES is a possibility as well, Ormand said.
The flights will be on Boeing 787-9 aircraft, which can hold up to 294 passengers — with 30 business class seats, 45 economy comfort and 219 economy seats. Las Vegas is KLM’s 13th U.S. destination and the 18th direct destination in North America.
In addition to linking Las Vegas and Amsterdam, the service opens up an array of connecting flights for travelers in both countries.
“There will be a lot of people coming from the U.S. and going beyond Amsterdam because we have a strong hub there,” Ormand said. “Half of our flights are connecting; they do not stop in Amsterdam. They can go to India, Africa and the rest of Europe. This is key to our model.”
— Mick Akers (@mickakers) June 6, 2019