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Industry veteran Pieter Elbers will be the VIP guest at the annual dinner of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA) – an event which is now in its 89th year. It takes place in Glasgow on February 28, 2019. Mr Elbers has worked with KLM for 26 years and during his speech to over 300 travel industry leaders from across the UK, he will discuss the future challenges and opportunities for the airline, which has an annual turnover of over €10bn.

Ken McLeod, president of the SPAA, said it was a real coup for the organisation to have the global head of KLM address members and associates at such a high-profile event in the travel industry’s annual calendar. KLM was named “European Airline of the Year” for the 15th consecutive year at the SPAA Awards on November 01, 2018.

He added: “Pieter Elbers is one of the biggest names in the aviation and travel industry and it is a real honour to be able to welcome him to the SPAA dinner. KLM is a globally recognised brand and, as well as hearing about its progression over 100 years, we’ll be interested to learn more on his thoughts about the future landscape for the aviation sector.“

“With such a long track record in the industry from aircraft loading to executive management, our guests will be eager to find out what his thoughts are on the state of the travel industry – a sector which is critically important to the Scottish economy and one which continues to grow.”

Mr Elbers started his career in operations, joining KLM in 1992 as an aircraft loading manager. A number of other managerial positions followed before he was promoted to the post of chief operating officer in 2011 and then to president and CEO four years ago.

He’s been leading the Dutch airline and its 33,000 employees since that time, focusing on maintaining its customer-focused approach to operations and developing partnerships and joint venture alliances.

Pieter Elbers, president and CEO of KLM said “2019 marks an important milestone for KLM as we celebrate 100 years and I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak at the SPAA annual dinner. Having first commenced operating from Scotland over 70 years ago, we are proud of our legacy in the region and the cooperative relationships we have built with the Scottish trade.”

“As a result of our strong regional presence, the UK has become a second home market for KLM. In recent years, we have continued to strengthen our footprint in Scotland, now offering 88 weekly flights to and from the region, securing global connectivity from four key airports” he added.

The SPAA annual dinner brings together members of the travel industry from across Scotland and beyond. In addition to Mr Elbers, the dinner will hear from Scottish comedian, broadcaster and political commentator Ayesha Hazarika.