Reply To: Rumour: Air France to Abolish ShortHaul European Business Class

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I suppose this could threaten KLM’s Europe Select cabin as well.

The source is an article in Le Figaro, only in French, below:

A similar story has appeared in Oinglish, set out below:


Air France’s management has the project to eliminate business class seats on medium-haul flights to increase the capacity of the economy class and face the massive transfer of business travelers to the rear of the aircraft since the beginning of the economic crisis.

This project is in the office of Bruno Matheu, executive vice president in charge of the network. It should be decided in October to an application early in the year 2010 at the time of entry into new flights timetable.

“Nothing is decided yet, said a spokesman for the group. Until today we had a strategy of continuity of service between medium and long-haul flight. Our discussion is whether we can continue on this model.

In other words, the European traveler (Berlin or London, for example) who wants to go to U.S. with Air France via Paris, now buys a ticket in business class for its flights.

Starting next year, he will perhaps have no other choice but to make his flight to Paris in economy class before flying on a long-haul business class.

This reform will therefore concern only the flights in Europe and not the long-haul flights.

“Be one step ahead”

Air France’s short and medium-haul business activity is strongly hit by three phenomena: the economic crisis, of course, but also the TGV competition for short-haul flights, and low-cost companies competition on medium-haul flights.

“Our business model is based on economic growth, explains Air France. We need a 4% growth to be able to reduce our unit costs. With this unprecedented crisis, we must change the business model.

The opening of the new TGV lines and European high speed projects are all threats to the company. When a TGV line is created, the market share of the aircraft facing the train reduces from 70 to 30%.

Air France has been studying for one year the opportunity to develop TGV with Veolia. Officially, the project is not abandoned. But it has stalled for several months. For now, nor any alliance with a low-cost airline has been announced.

There were rumors before the summer of merger between Air France and easyJet.

But they have since been disproved.

“We must hurry,” says Air France management, “this crisis is unprecedented and if we want to maintain our leading position, we must always be one step ahead.”


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