Sign of hope for Boeing

EVERETT — Air travel is on the rebound in Europe, although airlines there still are having a tough time making money, a top executive of KLM Royal Dutch Airline said Friday.

All things considered, "we are really not unhappy" with recent trends, said Peter Hartman, KLM’s managing director and chief operations officer.

"Traffic is coming back," Hartman said following a ceremony at Paine Field during which KLM took possession of its first 777-200ER from Boeing. "The only problem is still pressure on yields."

Hartman noted that KLM filled an average of 84 percent of its seats last month, a sign that air travel is on the mend following the long worldwide slump caused by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the war in Iraq and the outbreak of SARS in Asia.

His comments came at the end of a week in which U.S. airlines reported trends similar to what Hartman reported for Europe: More people are flying, but changes in corporate travel practices mean fewer passengers are paying top dollar for business travel.

During the week, Seattle-based Alaska Air Group cited stronger passenger loads during its third quarter as a key factor behind profits, which almost tripled compared with last year’s third quarter.

While there are signs of hope, airline orders remain slow, said Marlin Dailey, Boeing’s vice president of sales for Europe, who also spoke at Friday’s 777 delivery ceremony.

"By taking this 777, KLM is clearly demonstrating its commitment to commercial aviation at a time when we need commitment," Dailey said.

The uncertainty is affecting efforts to sell Boeing’s proposed 7E7 advanced jetliner in Europe, Dailey said later.

The reception for the new airplane has been "fantastic," he said. "The issue really is timing … are they in a strong enough financial condition that they feel comfortable committing to a new product?"

About a third of the 50 airlines Boeing is talking with about the 7E7 are in Europe, Dailey said, adding that it’s his goal to have a European airline as one of the launch customers.

KLM won’t be one of them, Hartman said.

"The first year (with a new plane), you’re having many operating problems," he said. That would give passengers a bad first impression of the new aircraft, which is tentatively scheduled to enter service in 2008.

But by 2010, KLM will be ready to replace its fleet of MD-11 jets, and "the 7E7 is absolutely a possibility," Hartman said. "I’m very enthused about what’s going on with the 7E7."

KLM and Air France are seeking regulatory approval to merge, creating a pan-European airline that would be the continent’s largest, he said, and that airline would carry more clout with manufacturers. "That’s one of the advantages of the alliance … a strength in purchasing power," Hartman said.

Being aligned with a French airline doesn’t mean KLM will be limited to buying French-built Airbus planes, he added.

For one thing, Air France is a major Boeing customer, Hartman noted. It will receive the first 777-300ER, the larger sister to the jet KLM received Friday.

KLM has been buying planes from Boeing and its merger partner, McDonnell Douglas, for 69 years, Hartman said.

"We are already part of the family. We like them, love them," he said. "They build excellent aircraft, and we need them."

Reporter Bryan Corliss: 425-339-3454 or

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Members of Gravitics' team and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen stand in front of a mockup of a space module interior on Thursday, August 17, 2023 at Gravitics' Marysville facility. Left to right: Mark Tiner, government affairs representative; Jiral Shah, business development; U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen; Mike DeRosa, marketing; Scott Macklin, lead engineer. (Gravitics.)
Marysville startup prepares for space — the financial frontier

Gravitics is building space station module prototypes to one day house space travelers and researchers.

Orca Mobility designer Mike Lowell, left, and CEO Bill Messing at their office on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023 in Granite Falls, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Could a Granite Falls startup’s three-wheeler revolutionize delivery?

Orca Mobility’s battery-powered, three-wheel truck is built on a motorcycle frame. Now, they aim to make it self-driving.

Catherine Robinweiler leads the class during a lab session at Edmonds College on April 29, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Grant aids apprenticeship program in Mukilteo and elsewhere

A $5.6 million U.S. Department of Labor grant will boost apprenticeships for special education teachers and nurses.

Peoples Bank is placing piggy banks with $30 around Washington starting Aug. 1.
(Peoples Bank)
Peoples Bank grant program seeks proposals from nonprofits

Peoples Bank offers up to $35,000 in Impact Grants aimed at helping communities. Applications due Sept. 15.

Workers build the first all-electric commuter plane, the Eviation Alice, at Eviation's plant on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021 in Arlington, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Arlington’s Eviation selects Seattle firm to configure production plane

TLG Aerospace chosen to configure Eviation Aircraft’s all-electric commuter plane for mass production.

Jim Simpson leans on Blue Ray III, one of his designs, in his shop on Friday, August 25, 2023, in Clinton, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Whidbey Island master mechanic building dream car from “Speed Racer”

Jim Simpson, 68, of Clinton, is using his knowledge of sports cars to assemble his own Mach Five.

An Amazon worker transfers and organizes items at the new PAE2 Amazon Fulfillment Center on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amazon cuts ribbon on colossal $355M fulfillment center in Arlington

At 2.8 million square feet, the facility is the largest of its kind in Washington. It can hold 40 million “units” of inventory.

A computer rendering of the North Creek Commerce Center industrial park in development at 18712 Bothell-Everett Highway. (Kidder Mathews)
Developer breaks ground on new Bothell industrial park

The North Creek Commerce Center on Bothell Everett Highway will provide warehouse and office space in three buildings.

Dan Bates / The Herald
Funko president, Brian Mariotti is excited about the growth that has led his company to need a 62,000 square foot facility in Lynnwood.
Photo Taken: 102312
Former Funko CEO resigns from the Everett company

Brian Mariotti resigned Sept. 1, six weeks after announcing he was taking a six-month sabbatical from the company.

Cash is used for a purchase at Molly Moon's Ice Cream in Edmonds, Washington on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Paper or plastic? Snohomish County may require businesses to take cash

County Council member Nate Nehring proposed an ordinance to ban cashless sales under $200. He hopes cities will follow suit.

A crowd begins to form before a large reception for the opening of Fisherman Jack’s at the Port of Everett on Wednesday, August 30, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Seafood with a view: Fisherman Jack’s opens at Port of Everett

“The port is booming!” The new restaurant is the first to open on “restaurant row” at the port’s Waterfront Place.

Tanner Mock begins unwrapping new furniture that has been delivered on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
In Everett, new look, new name for mainstay Behar’s Furniture

Conlin’s Furniture, based in South Dakota, bought the huge store and celebrates with a grand opening this week.