In 1995, KLM set up KLM asia specifically to fly to Taiwan. This was because the Chinese government wouldn’t allow national carriers to fly to both Taiwanese and Chinese destinations. Basically, to capitalize on growing business and tourism demand from both Taiwan and China, a number of airlines set up subsidiaries to appease the mainland; to wit, British Airways created the now-defunct British Asia Airways.
It also meant that such subsidiaries had to remove national symbols on a plane’s livery — aka the colors and designs; that’s why you don’t notice a Dutch crown anywhere on KLM asia.
These Taipei-bound flights generally operated as the second leg of regional hubs, e.g. Amsterdam – Bangkok – Taipei, or London – Hong Kong – Taipei. ‘Tis a good reason why 400+-seat 747s regularly flew the ~1.5 hour flight between Hong Kong and Taipei.
In 2008, due in large part to Beijing-friendly Taiwanese President Ma Ying-Jeou, charter flights began between China and the island state. The following year, the charter flights turned into scheduled flights, which meant that KLM asia and its ilk turned into novelties.
For history buffs, here’s a little background regarding the Dutch presence in Taiwan.
Formosa (present-day Taiwan) was considered just another backwater island of bandits and pirates, without much to offer the Dutch when they first made landfall in 1624.
At that point, the Dutch East India Company started to build Fort Zeelandia in Anping, today’s Tainan city. It became their island base to trade with the Spanish (in the Philippines), the Japanese, and the Chinese, as well as native aboriginal tribes. Unlike the Spanish, since the Dutch had welcomed settlers from Fujian province in China, they had a bit of a co-colonizing thang going on. Thus, due in part to getting along better with their neighbors, the Dutch were able to say adios to Spanish influence in Taiwan after the battle of Fort San Salvador in 1642.
That is, until a sharp increase in taxes on the Chinese catalyzed a rebellion against the Dutch East India Company. Koxinga (國姓爺), a Ming dynasty loyalist, became leader of this rebellion, and along with aboriginals who were tired of compulsory Dutch education, helped kick out the European settlers in 1661-1662. Although the Dutch briefly allied with the Qing dynasty (the Qing dynasty was ruled by a non-native Chinese group, the Manchu) to take over the northern port of Keelung, they were given their second and last boot in 1668.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m craving a pineapple stroopwafel.
Have you ever seen, or flown with KLM asia?