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. Excerpts.
On the Indian aviation market
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 happen.
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.