Competition from Gulf carriers has made the burgeoning Indian aviation market “tough” and Air France-KLM would have to upgrade its image to address this challenge, the airline’s global CEO has said.
“Of course, Indian market is an important one, (mainly due to an) enormous population and a growing economy but it is a difficult one,” Air France-KLM CEO Alexandre de Juniac told PTI in an interview here, stressing that competition was “tough” in India primarily due to the Gulf carriers.
Flagging concerns about challenge posed by Gulf airlines, Juniac said the scenario needs to be addressed with the right tools.
“We have to address that competition with the right tool …meaning the right aircraft, providing the right service and right products.
“I think we have to upgrade our image in India using the new product and services. We would like to be counted one among the most preferred airlines to travel everywhere,” he said, expressing keenness to strengthen his airline’s presence in the “important” Indian aviation space.
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Emphasising upon the need for improving aviation infrastructure in India, Juniac said there should be less costly airports.
“Frankly, if I could say, I think that India should improve its infrastructure. The airports, the atmosphere, they are not always easy… We would love it to have less costly airports,” he said, pointing to high charges at some major metro airports.
According to him, not just his carrier but all the airlines are pushing the authorities to upgrade and modernise the existing infrastructure facilities.
At present, Air France-KLM together offers 34 weekly direct flights from India to Europe.
Elaborating on the carrier’s approach towards the Indian market, Juniac said high contribution passengers would have to be targeted to market the country a more attractive business proposition for it.
“If we want it to be an attractive market for us, we should target high contribution passengers, meaning business class passengers. So we should focus Indian corporates, big Indian companies.
“Apart from products and services, best argument we have is the size, density and network. The quality of connections between London and Paris…,” the Air France-KLM chief noted.
A leading global carrier, the airline carried more than 77.3 million passengers last year while its annual revenues touched 25.5 billion euros. Last year, net loss for the group stood at 1.83 billion euros while the revenues touched 25.5 billion euros.
Apart from passenger services, Air France-KLM Group is also into cargo transport and aeronautical maintenance. A combination of Air France and Dutch carrier KLM, has also completed 10 years of merger this year.
When asked about the entity’s overall business priorities, Juniac said the focus is to bring it back to good financial health.
“Our objectives are clear. We have gone through a difficult process. We are anchoring, we are meeting our targets and so will deliver results… We will be back again on a financial track which is healthy,” he said.
On the lessons from the merger, Juniac said Air France and KLM combination not only increases the strength of both sides but also provides diversity and choice.