The King is extremely interested in flying. In 1985 he obtained his Private Pilot’s Licence (Second Class), followed by his Commercial Pilot’s Licence (with an Instrument Rating) in 1987. While studying he went on to obtain his theoretical B1/B2 licence. This enabled him to fly as a volunteer in Kenya, first for the medical aid organisation African Medical Research & Education Foundation (AMREF) and then for the Kenya Wildlife Service.
In 1989 King Willem-Alexander obtained a supplementary licence to fly multi-engine jet aircraft. He also has his Military Pilot’s Licence, which was presented to him by his grandfather Prince Bernhard in 1994. The King earned his Airline Transport Pilot Licence in 2001. In order to keep in practice, he occasionally flies as a guest pilot for KLM Cityhopper. Until mid-2017 he flew either the government aeroplane – registration PH-KBX – or a Fokker 70 from the regular fleet.
In mid-2017 the King trained to fly the Boeing 737. He obtained his licence in June 2017, allowing him to continue flying as a guest pilot with KLM. This decision was taken before the contract award procedure for replacing the government aircraft was launched and is unrelated to it.
KLM Cityhopper, which currently operates flights by members of the Dutch government, recently announced that it will no longer fly Fokker 70s (FK70) after 2017. This means it will no longer have the personnel capacity (including pilots and ground crew) to provide crews and maintenance for the government aeroplane after mid-2017. In a letter to the House of Representatives of 4 April 2017, the Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment announced that the government had decided that the new government aeroplane would be a Boeing 737 Business Jet. The registration will be PH-GOV and the aircraft is due to be delivered in early 2019.
The KBX is government property and is mainly used for official trips by members of the government and accompanying delegations.