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Air France-Singapore Airlines partnership talks highlight lack of Gulf airline penetration in France

The growth of Gulf airlines continues to force competitors to innovate and adapt to the new market, sometimes forgoing long-standing partnerships and business views. The next response may be a partnership between Air France and Singapore Airlines, the two of which are reportedly in talks. 

Such a partnership would be symbolically significant. Both are anchor members of opposite alliances – Star and SkyTeam – and are bitter about the growth of Gulf airlines. Air France is boisterous in its remarks while Singapore Airlines keeps complaints out of the public space. Air France has not been silenced by a partnership with Etihad; one that appears to have never been fully consummated. Singapore Airlines’ Air France talks come at the same time as SIA plans to implement a JV with the Lufthansa Group.

The view from SIA appears to be that France is a significant market, and connections from Lufthansa Group hubs are not sufficient. As Air France and SIA move towards a partnership, Gulf airlines continue to be denied French traffic rights: they have one quarter as many flights to France as to the UK. Air France has cut Southeast Asia capacity but KLM has grown, indicating that the group is seeking new strategic solutions.

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