November 2017 \ Cover Story \ DIPLOMATIC INTERVIEW
“Indo-Dutch relationship is booming like never before”

H.E. Mr Alphonsus Stoelinga, Ambassador of the Netherlands in India, whom we had put on our cover in April 2016, speaks to Editor Sayantan Chakravarty of India Empire on the booming business relationship between the two countries. At the India Empire Diplomatic Night held in April 2017, he was the recipient of a special award for strengthening ties between the North-Western European Region and India. He received the award from Union Steel Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh

  • H.E. Mr Alphonsus Stoelinga Ambassador of the Netherlands in India

Interview with H.E. Mr Alphonsus Stoelinga, Ambassador of the Netherlands in India

The Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions has reported an increase in Indian arrivals in the first quarter of 2017, a 19 per cent jump over the same period in 2016. What would you attribute this to?

Well, you know, we’ve also seen that the number of visas, we issue to Indians, has been going up 25 per cent each year. Twenty five per cent more visas means 25 per cent more tourists, students, businessmen. One of my reference points is February 2016, and I compare that to February 2018. That is because in March 2016 Jet Airways started to fly to Holland. Prior to that we had only one (KLM-)flight to Holland from India. So Jet Airways started with Delhi-Amsterdam and Mumbai-Amsterdam. From October 28, there will be Bengaluru-Amsterdam as well. In total, we now have five non stop flights between India and Amsterdam daily, and there is a possibility that Jet Airways will add another city in India from where to fly to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. So we have gone from one direct flight to five or even six. This translates to six times more aircrafts, six times more passengers, six times more tourists, six times more business people. In fact, Schiphol has slowly but surely turned into a hub in Europe for Indian passengers. Jet Airways and KLM do a code-sharing. That means if one buys a Jet Airways ticket from an Indian city to Oslo or Berlin, the last leg (Amsterdam-Oslo or Amsterdam-Berlin) is done by KLM. Likewise, if a Dutch flyer buys a ticket from Amsterdam to Chennai via Delhi or

Mumbai, the Indian sector is taken care of by Jet Airways. The airlines share the profits on this code-sharing. So these two airline companies are working very closely together. Jet Airways also has one flight between Amsterdam and Toronto. So if you go to Schiphol Airport at about 10.00 in the morning, you see four Jet Airways aircraft -one that came from Delhi, another from Mumbai, another from Bengaluru, and yet another from Toronto. In March, the possibility is high that this figure will go up to five. So, the 19 per cent increase that you talk about is very logical.