European carrier Air France is
hoping that the world comes out of the economic slowdown as it would also lead
to a recovery of sorts for the aviation sector which is staring at cumulative
losses to the tune of $10 billion (around Rs 49,000 crore).
To beat the downturn, the
airline has stopped its operations from Chennai and Hyderabad and plans to
launch a new product — Premium Voyager — which would be a class lower than
business but higher than the economy. Erik F Varwijk, executive vice president
of Air France, talked about the airline and the aviation industry in general.
On the Indian aviation
India has a growing aviation
market. The Indian economy is growing at about 6.7 per cent that is a matter of
envy for us because the European markets are not growing at that pace. But the
slowdown has led to a change in travel patterns and that has left airlines
bleeding across the world. As corporate and premium travel has gone down by
nearly 25 to 30 per cent, airlines across the world are devising various methods
to get passengers back.
On why Air France has
pulled out from Chennai and Hyderabad
The economics did not work out.
We are now focussing on our main markets that is Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. We
will come back to the secondary markets when the world comes out of the slow
down. There are signs of recovery but one cannot say for sure when this would
On plans of further
reduction of operations from India
We are reducing our seat
capacity in the Indian market by about 13 to 15 per cent. Instead of a daily
flight from Bangalore, we are making it to six flights a week and from Delhi, we
are withdrawing the Boeing 747 and Airbus 340 that has about 300 seats.