Air France-KLM eyes greater synergies in Taiwan market

2017/12/07 20:42:27 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Johnson Wan (溫爾功, left) and Bas Gerressen

Johnson Wan (溫爾功, left) and Bas Gerressen

Taipei, Dec. 7 (CNA) Senior officials from Air France-KLM Group said Thursday that the reopening of the Taipei-Paris route by its subsidiary Air France next April is expected to create new synergies between its Air France and KLM divisions.

Passengers who plan to visit Europe could make good use of flight combinations including both airlines, with the hubs of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport offering easy transit options, said Bas Gerressen, the group's general manager for Greater China.

The fact the Taipei-Paris non-stop flights will take off early afternoon in Taipei and arrive in Paris on the same day could also provide greater flexibility for Paris-bound KLM passengers, who currently have to make transits in Amsterdam, said Gerressen.

After a hiatus of 20 years, Air France will operate three weekly flights between Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport starting on April 16, 2018.

The decision to return to the Taiwan market is a result of successful local KLM operation over the past five years, which have seen a loading factor of 90 percent on daily Taipei-Amsterdam flights, according to Gerressen.

"We feel that in Taiwan, it is possible now," he told CNA. "Not because the market is that big but because we feel there is stable growth every year."

The ground operation system and local connections established by KLM could also help Air France find a position in the market more quickly, said Gerressen.

The carrier is also working with China Airlines, one of Taiwan's leading airlines, to provide code-share services, he said.

Taipei will be the only Asian destination added to the Air France network in 2018, added Johnson Wan (溫爾功), the group's country manager for Taiwan.

Plans to reopen the Taipei-Paris route started nearly two years ago, Wan said, adding that the services could be especially appealing to business travelers, who are expected to account for more than half the passengers.

Air France is likely to face major competition from EVA Airways, the only Taiwanese airline operating on the same route, which provides daily non-stop flights.

Although Air France is initially only providing three direct flights per week via Boeing 777-200 planes, it does not rule out more services on the route if market response is good, said Gerressen.

There will be 280 seats on the flights, including 40 business class and 24 premium economy class seats, the carrier said.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)

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