Air France to operate A380 to Tokyo
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Air France-KLM: long haul low cost airline could be part of new CEO's vision as French Blue enters
Air France-KLM chairman and CEO, Jean-Marc Janaillac, who took charge in Jul-2016, has talked about the possibility of launching long haul low cost operations (Bloomberg/luchtvaartnieuws.nl, 20-Sep-2016).
If Air France-KLM were to enter this segment it would be the second of Europe's big three legacy airline groups to do so, after the Lufthansa Group. Ironically, there is no long haul low cost competition to Lufthansa in Germany. By contrast, IAG faces more such competitors in the UK than either of its two major rival groups in their largest home market, but currently has no plan for such an operator.
Air France-KLM management told analysts on a conference call in May-2016 that it was sceptical about the sustainability of year-round profits for long haul low cost. However, new competition has prompted Mr Janaillac to look more closely at this market segment. Since Jul-2016 Norwegian has commenced trans-Atlantic long haul operations from Paris CDG. In addition, since Sep-2016, the new-start long haul LCC French Blue now flies on routes to the Caribbean. Mr Janaillac is expected to report on his strategic vision for Air France-KLM in early Nov-2016. Labour relations will be crucial to the group's development – not least in the area of long haul low cost.
jetBlue Airways, armed with its premium product Mint, is poised to disrupt the trans-Atlantic market
Periodically throughout the last few years jetBlue has hinted that long haul trans-Atlantic flights could be a possibility at some point in its evolution. But in mid-2016 the company took a more concrete step towards serving trans-Atlantic routes by altering its Airbus order book – potentially to support long haul expansion.
JetBlue’s decision to option the Airbus A321LR occurs at a time when airlines such as WestJet, Norwegian Air Shuttle and WOW Air are pushing the low cost model into the long haul international market. Perhaps the steps those airlines are taking to carve out the low cost niche in the long haul space has accelerated jetBlue’s evaluations of trans-Atlantic service. The company has declared that it would make a decision about its options for the long-range Airbus narrowbody in 2017 ahead of the narrowbody’s debut in 2019.
The biggest drivers for jetBlue’s decision to enter the long haul trans-Atlantic market are identifying routes where it can inject low fares to stimulate traffic and drive revenue. The company’s base in Boston is emerging as the epicentre for those potential opportunities.