MIAMI — October 25, 2014 will mark the end of eleven years of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines operating the McDonnell Douglas MD-11. The Dutch Carrier was planning to retire their MD-11 fleet in 2016, but their retirement will be two years earlier than planned. The final KLM flights will mark the end of scheduled passenger MD-11 flights, and tri-jets overall.
Though subject to change, the final KLM MD-11 flights will take place between Amsterdam, Montreal, and Toronto. KLM 691 will depart Amsterdam at 0935 local time (LT) and arrive in Toronto at 1645LT, and it will depart Toronto as KLM 692 at 1735LT and arrive in Amsterdam at 0645LT the next day. The final flight will occur between Amsterdam and Montreal. KLM 671 will depart Amsterdam at 15:25LT and arrive in Montreal at 16:45LT, and it will depart Montreal as KLM 672 at 19:00 and arrive in Amsterdam at 0735LT the next day.
In 1985, the Board of Directors authorized the McDonnell Douglas plant in Long Beach to offer the MD-11 to potential customers, and the MD-11 program was launched on December 30, 1986. At the time of the launch, there were commitments for 52 firm orders and 40 options from ten airlines. KLM was not one of the original airlines to order the MD-11. The first MD-11 flight occurred on January 10, 1990, and later that year, the first aircraft was delivered to Finnair on December 7.
KLM eventually ordered ten MD-11s, and they currently have five active MD-11 aircraft in their fleet, including their first MD-11 that was delivered to them on December 7, 1993. Four aircraft have been sent to storage and one was written off.
The last flight will also mark the end of the wide-body tri-jet era. Airplanes such as the Lockheed L-1011 Tristar, Douglas DC-10, and the MD-11 were quite popular in the 80’s and 90’s, but faded away as twin-jets like the Boeing 767 and 777 gained popularity. The L-1011 ended regular service years ago, while a handful of remaining DC-10s are due to end service in December 2013 with Biman Bangladesh. Many of the jets have continued life as cargo haulers, though it is not clear what fate KLMs aircraft are bound to.