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SIA and Air France to form a partnership?

3 May 2016 by Alex McWhirter

French newspaper La Tribune reports that Singapore Airlines’ executives recently met with their Air France counterparts.

The meeting took place in Paris last week. It’s reported that talks revolved around both carriers entering into a partnership.

Besides code-sharing any partnership would extend to lounge-sharing, improved connectivity and a better range of fares and ticketing.

But why? Quite simply it’s a way in which these two carriers can better use their network strengths to outflank their Gulf rivals Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.

As Business Traveller reported a few weeks ago (see news April 6) SIA has already signed a similar agreement with Lufthansa and Swiss. 

Judging by the comments we received this issue is of much interest to our readers.

How would the passenger benefit? He or she would gain access to a huge new range of destinations at each end of the route.

SIA’s passengers coming from Asia or Australasia would be able to fly via Singapore to either Paris itself or onwards to many dozens of destinations in the UK, mainland Europe, Scandinavia and North Africa.

Air France would offer its European customers access to the whole of South East Asia plus Australasia. And the latter is one part of the world where Air France has historically been very weak.

And what about the airlines? Both airlines would use the strength of their hubs at Paris CDG or Singapore to compete better with Abu Dhabi (Etihad), Doha (Qatar Airways) and Dubai (Emirates).

Yet again it demonstrates the ability of a large hub to connect many dozens of destinations in a cost-effective manner.

Boeing proclaimed its B787 Dreamliner would be a “hub buster” but as can be seen the hubs remain as strong as ever.

Problems? The main sticking point is that each carrier belongs to a different alliance. SIA is with Star Alliance while Air France is a member of Skyteam.

And as noted by La Tribune “The rules of Star Alliance allowing one of its members to work with another alliance carrier are very strict”.

So unlike Oneworld and Skyteam, Star Alliance will strongly oppose its members co-operating with airlines belonging to other alliances.

On the other hand, I am sure most regular travellers would agree that SIA is not as committed to Star as is Lufthansa.

In a number of areas, examples being lounge access and frequent flyer programmes, SIA is happy to go its own way.

It’s understood that SIA has now requested that the Star Alliance rules be relaxed so that it can work with Air France.

By comparison to London-Singapore (over which SIA operates four and BA two daily flights) the Paris-Singapore route is not a busy one. SIA only flies once daily with an A380 while Air France makes do with a single B777-300ER.

So there is room for improvement. If an agreement between these two carriers can be reached then it may happen by this summer.

singaporeair.com, airfrance.co.uk

Alex McWhirter

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