Air France’s new business class lounge now complete at Paris CDG

Air France’s new business class lounge now complete at Paris CDG

After revealing the first stage of the revamp last January, Air France’s redesiged Business lounge has been unveiled in full in Hall L of Terminal 2E at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport. The 3,200 sqm lounge has capacity for 540 guests and includes several entirely new features, including bar area Le Balcon; the largest wellness area of all the airline’s lounges; a Kids area; and dining area Gourmet Table.

Guests are greeted at the lounge by an interactive map , allowing them to browse all the services available.

Designed by Mathieu Lehanneur, Le Balcon (160 sqm) comes complete with LED screen in the floor depicting an image of the sky that reflects the time of day, blue velvet seating and a cocktail menu from the head bartender of the Hotel Lancaster in Paris.

Food is available from the Gourmet Table dining area, which features an open kitchen where a chef prepares tasty hot dishes by adding the final touch in front of the customer. There is also a self-service option of hot and cold dishes, with a wine list from Paolo Basso, winner of world’s best sommelier in 2013.

The wellness area includes a relaxation area, detox bar, Clarins spa, saunas and showers.

Additional spaces include Le Club, a more private seating area, a Kids area and the quiet zone Le Petit Salon, while two co-working tables provide individual power sockets.

Air France and KLM standardise economy fares

Air France Economy

Air France and KLM standardise economy fares

New European fares now in three categories – Light, Standard and Flex.

Air France and KLM are introducing new fare classes in the economy cabin. The new fares which were phased in across the Air France site last week but will not be available on until January 2017 will be on all international flights within Europe, and to North Africa and Israel.

The new products are:


The lowest fare – hand-baggage-only (no checked luggage, though there is the possibility to take hand baggage: 1 baggage item + 1 accessory (total weight: 12 kg / 26 lb) at any time before the flight on or for 21GBP.


For an additional fee of €40-50, this offers the option of one item of baggage and the ability to change the ticket for a fee.


For an additional fee of €70-150 this offers no change fees and a refund at no extra charge), as well as the possibility to take advantage of the SkyPriority service at the airport and an inflight meal.

In all classes, passengers will receive

A refreshment, snack or meal (depending on your flight’s duration) and beverage will be served;

Self-service newspapers available in the boarding hall. Free digital media selection available via smartphone, tablet or laptop starting 30 hours before your flight with AF Press or KLM media app;


“Transparency and enrichment for our customers, is our basis for building these new fare products on Air France and KLM medium-haul network. By introducing these new products we will make it easier for our customers to choose the services and the flexibility that they need.” stated Pieter Bootsma, Executive Vice President Commercial Strategy Air France-KLM.


Air France-KLM plans “Boost” subsidiary

Air France A320 3

Air France –KLM group has announced plans for a new company to sit alongside its existing legacy carriers, with the aim of responding to the threat posed by the major Gulf carriers.

The new subsidiary has the working name of “Boost”, and will focus on “ultra-competitive markets”, with the aim of “opening new routes, re-opening routes closed due to their lack of profitability and maintaining routes under threat”.

The group says that the new company will be “competitive and innovative”, and will drive growth at its Paris CDG hub, in response “to the Gulf State airlines which are developing at low production costs on key markets where Air France-KLM is pursuing its growth ambition”.

The aim will be to regain market share with “a simple, modern and innovative offer, whose positioning will not be low cost”.

Air France-KLM says that the new offering will “offer its customers business and leisure destinations with standards comparable to those of Air France in terms of product quality and the professionalism of the crews”.

Details released by the group include the following:

  • The new company will also serve as a laboratory for the Group’s innovative ability in terms of products, digital and technology, catering, cabin design, services and the customer experience, as well as for working methods
  • It will number ten long-haul aircraft by 2020 with some 30 per cent of operations focused on newly-created routes
  • It will operate with Air France pilots on a volunteer basis at work conditions adapted to its competitive positioning
  • For cabin crews, an independent career path will be created to enable this new company to be operated at the level of market costs
  • The ground operations, handled by Air France, will also be optimized by benefiting to the maximum from digitalization
  • The HR framework for this new company will be negotiated with the unions in the coming weeks

The plans were revealed as part of a new Trust Together project unveiled by Jean-Marc Janaillac, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Air France-KLM.

“With Trust Together, Air France-KLM regains the offensive with a project which is both ambitious and realistic. It will enable us to capture our share of air transport industry growth by improving the competitiveness of our businesses.

“With our nine strategic priorities, we shall be fighting back on every front. Our strength lies in the fact that we are challengers. The status quo is not an option. We must launch a new dynamic to return to a leadership position in our markets.”

Among these priorities include regaining the offensive in the long-haul sector, with the group targeting profitable growth for long-haul operations of between 2 and 3 per cent per year through to 2020.

The group aims to achieve this through the development of the new company detailed above, as well as through deepened alliances and commercial integration with partners.

Air France-KLM recently announmced plans to form a joint venture with US carrier and fellow Skyteam member Delta, as well as Indian carrier Jet Airways.

The group says that it will lobby:

  • At European level, “to establish equitable competition with the Gulf State and low-cost carriers”
  • At French level, “to reduce the structural lag in competitiveness due to higher taxes and fees”

There are also plans to reinforce the group’s hub at Amsterdam Schiphol, through closer coordination between low-cost subsidiary Transavia and KLM, “particularly in terms of investment in the fleet and the development of the network and new joint commercial approaches”.

Air France-KLM will aim to use Transavia to compete with the TGV rail service and low-cost carriers within France, as well as to develop its European routes departing from Paris Orly and the provinces.

As part of an initiative designed to move upmarket for products and services, new uniforms are planned for the Air France and Hop! Air France by 2018-19.

The group aims to reach revenues of around €28 billion by 2020, with 100 million passengers carried and a fleet of 435 aircraft (excluding regional fleets).,

Air France-KLM to install wifi across long-haul fleet

Air France-KLM wifi with Gogo 2Ku

Air France-KLM has signed an agreement with technology provider Gogo to equip its long-haul fleet with wifi.

The group already offers wifi on its eight KLM Boeing Dreamliner aircraft, with Air France to launch its first B787-9 in January 2017. On these aircraft the technology is provided by Panasonic Avionics.

The new agreement will see Gogo’s 2Ku technology installed on a total of 124 Air France and KLM aircraft, as follows:

  • 68 Air France B777s
  • 15 Air France A330s
  • 29 KLM B777s
  • 12 KLM A330s

Work to equip the aircraft will start at the end of 2017.

Announcing the move, Air France-KLM said:

“With this new joint Air France and KLM agreement, the Group’s passengers will benefit from wifi during their trip by staying connected around the world with their family, friends or business partners, on their smartphone, laptop or tablet.

“On the in-house Air France-KLM designed onboard portal a freely accessible environment is available where customers can find relevant information about their flight, arrange travel details and find entertainment beyond the state of the art seat-back inflight entertainment systems.”,

Air France postpones A380 refurbishment

Air France A380

The A380 is Air France’s flagship. The carrier’s superjumbo plies some of its busiest and most prestigious routes.

But Air France’s A380 cabin interiors remain unchanged from when these aircraft entered service some years ago.

So it’s disappointing to learn that Air France has, yet again, postponed any updating.

According to a report in France’s La Tribune the original plan was for Air France to have completed refurbishment of the first A380 fleet next year.

That programme was then postponed until 2018 but the latest news, is that it has been put back until 2019.

At a recent trade fair Air France publicised its latest premium products now being retrofitted to many of its long-haul planes.

The carrier stated the new products have already or will be fitted to its A330s, B777s.  Air France’s new B787s, the first of which arrives in January 2017, will of course have them installed.  And so too will the A350 when it arrives.

But, and it’s a big “but,”  buried at the very end of the media release comes the news that “the company is studying the refurbishment of its Airbus A380 with possible [note: possible] deployment starting in 2019.”

Air France simply needs to update its ten-strong A380 fleet.

One reason is that business class (located on the upper deck) is still disposed with the old-fashioned angled lie-flat seating configured six across 2-2-2.

By comparison most, if not all, rival A380 operators now feature flat-bed seating in business class.

Indeed three of Air France’s rivals, namely Emirates, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines (SIA), provide both flat beds and a roomier four across (1-2-1) layout.

It would appear Air France is devoting its energies to updating its other long-haul aircraft at the expense of its A380 flagships.

Four airlines fight back against Gulf rivals

Air France A380

Three Skyteam member airlines are following in Lufthansa’s footsteps* – by next year they intend to inaugurate a JV (joint venture) to better compete against their Gulf rivals Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.

Air France, KLM and US carrier Delta will team up with India’s (non-alligned) Jet Airways on multiple routings.

They will be using their hubs at Amsterdam and Paris CDG in Europe along with Atlanta, Minneapolis and New York JFK in the USA.

This mammoth JV has still to be formally approved. It will, according to Air France, cover routes between India, Europe and both North and South America.  Also between North America, India and Africa also via Europe.

Travellers based in the UK regions may find it more convenient to change in Amsterdam or Paris CDG rather than London Heathrow.

Why these particular routings ?

Because, as Business Traveller has previously reported, the Gulf airlines have captured much of this traffic to the detriment of European aviation.

Air France says the JV represents 25 per cent of total transatlantic capacity with annual revenue of US$12 billion.

Certainly there is little love lost between Delta and the Gulf carriers.  The latter competed fiercely and prompted Delta (along with other US carriers) to exit the Gulf market.

Later Delta took “revenge” by blocking the arrivals gate for Qatar Airways’ inaugural A380 service to Atlanta.

But Jet Airways is 24 per cent owned by Etihad. Why is it agreeing to this JV?

Local media in India is speculating that this is one way in which Jet Airways can expand internationally rather than simply feed passengers to Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways.

But Jet Airways is wasting no time with its expansion plans.

From the start of the winter timetable (at the end of October):,,,

Revealed: the interior of Air France’s new B787-9

Air France and KLM tailfiins

Revealed: interior of Air France’s new B787-9

Report by Alex McWhirter

Air France’s first B787 has yet to be delivered. It’s currently on the Boeing assembly line in Seattle.  But already we have an idea of what its interior will be like.

The first B787 for the French national airline is expected to join the carrier’s fleet towards the end of this year.  Air France has yet to announce on which routes these long-haul B787s will be deployed.

Although the airline has yet to reveal its B787’s interior layout many details have been leaked by a French aviation newsletter.

According to Tyler Birth Air France’s B787 will be configured for three classes:  business, premium economy and normal economy.

There will be 30 business class seats (42 ins pitch) configured 1-2-1,  21 premium economy seats (40 ins pitch) configured 2-3-2 and 225 regular economy seats (31 ins pitch) configured 3-3-3.

It comes as no surprise to see that the economy cabin will be configured 3-3-3 which (with the exception of Japan’s JAL) has become the norm amongst B787 operators.

Not so good is the fact Tyler Birth reports that Air France has removed one inch from the economy class pitch.  The 31 ins of pitch is similar to KLM’s B787 economy class.

What is good to see is that Air France will provide the same spacious seating in business class as does partner KLM with its own B787s.

It is true that Air France has already retrofitted spacious 1-2-1 business class seating on a few B777-200ERs/B777-300ERs but many if not most of its long-haul fleet is still disposed six across (2-2-2) or seven across (2-3-2) even aboard its flagship A380s.

The downside with the new four-across business cabin appears to be the fact that pitch is reduced to 42 ins.

Initially I thought this was a misprint until I checked KLM’s B787 business cabin (which also has 30 seats) and discovered it was exactly the same.

With space being a precious commodity on any aircraft I guess it’s all swings and roundabouts.

So that would explain why Air France’s premium economy (with 2-3-2 seating) adopts a relatively generous pitch of 40 ins.

And that raises another question.

How long can its partner KLM continue without a proper premium economy cabin ?

KLM’s nine-across (3-3-3) Economy Comfort looking increasinly outdated (compared to other airlines’ premium economy cabins) although its 35 ins of pitch enables it to increase the seat count.

However its transatlantic JV partner Delta will soon adopting a proper premium economy cabin.

(see our feature  in the September issue Premium economy: a cut above)

Skyteam members KLM/Delta work closely on key transatlantic routes with code-sharing, joint operations and so on.

In which case, for the sake of avoiding confusion,  surely  KLM’s Economy Comfort b.









Five airline partnerships with celebrity chefs

Celebrity chef neil perry




INFO As part of its “Life Well Travelled” brand promise, Cathay Pacific partnership with Daniel Green, will see the celebrity chef introduce new “high-quality, low carbohydrate” dishes to first and business class customers flying to and from North America from August 2016. Noteworthy dishes include a spicy Thai vegetable curry that is served in a pumpkin; seared ahi tuna with sesame soy ginger vinaigrette; and Gnocchi with basil and sun-dried tomato sauce.





INFO Qantas’ highly successful partnership with Neil Perry has lasted nearly two decades, with the Aussie chef having taken a pro-active role in the entire meal development process for the airline’s premium cabin classes and lounges. Passengers in economy class also get “Rockpool-inspired” dishes – meals inspired by Perry’s restaurant in Australia. It’s impossible to sum up our favourite Qantas dishes (there’s simply too many to choose from), but some of Perry’s most popular creations include a classic steak sandwich, salt and pepper calamari, and Pavlova that changes seasonally.





INFO The debut of United’s upcoming international business class experience, Polaris, will also see the Star Alliance member undergo a new US$100 million lounge transformation programme. The airline has therefore employed the services of Art Smith, former personal chef to Oprah Winfrey and owner of the Blue Door Kitchen restaurant in Chicago, as its culinary ambassador. Smith will contribute to the menu planning, design and food presentation offered at United Polaris lounges. The first of these will open in Chicago on December 1, and this will be followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, New York/Newark, Washington Dulles, Tokyo Narita, Hong Kong and London Heathrow in 2017.





INFO Renowned Indian chef, Maneet Chauhan, well known to her role as one of the judges on Food Network’s reality cooking game show Chopped, is partnering with American Airlines to create a new in-flight menu that is now being served in its premium cabins on flights between Chicago and Delhi. With the aim of delivering the vibrant and bold flavours of Indian cuisine to customers, Chauhan has created dishes such as Chicken Chettinad (diced chicken accented with coriander, fresh tomatoes and garlic, served with lemon basmati rice and carrot and peas poriyal), Ka Khagina Paneer (mashed paneer cooked with coconut milk, cashew paste and coriander served with saffron dill basmati rice) and Kalonji Aloo (diced potatoes seasoned with coriander served with a light ginger-garlic sauce, sauteed onions and tomatoes).




MENU AVAILABILITY From March 1 (available for a period of one year)

INFO La Premiere and business class passengers flying with Air France on flights out of North America are currently able to sample dishes created by Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud. These include Atlantic Lobster, Curried Coconut Sauce, Black Rice and Bok Choy; Tomato Braised Chicken, Four Bean Medley and Basil; and Seabass in Vine Leaves, Za’atar, Farro and Grape for those seated in La Premiere, while business class customers can choose from dishes such as Salmon with Fennel, Chickpea and Sumac; Moroccan Chicken Tagine, with Lemon, Cauliflower and Couscous; and Braised Lamb with Spring Root Vegetables and Edamame.

Clement Huang

New cabin products for Air France’s A330s

Air France has announced that it will begin equipping its Airbus A330 fleet with new cabin products from the end of 2017.

The new business, premium economy and economy seats have been developed in partnership with Zodiac Aerospace and are currently found on 31 of the airline’s B777s, which serve long-haul routes. To learn more about the improved products, see here.

As part of a €140 million (US$159 million) investment, the Skyteam member will be retrofitting its entire fleet of A330-200s with the new seats. The upgrade is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

Each refitted A330-200 will come with 30 seats in business, 21 in premium economy and 175 in economy.

“If Air France is back among the best global airlines, this is partly thanks to our very high-quality products and services,” said Frédéric Gagey, Chairman and CEO of Air France. “Equipping our Airbus A330 fleet with these cabins is the next logical step in the move upmarket of Air France’s products and services.”

For more information, visit

Clement Huang