Fly­ing French

As the first Euro­pean car­rier serv­ing China, Air France-KLM vows a con­tin­u­ous be­spoke ser­vice for the mar­ket

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - ByWANG YING in Shang­hai wang_y­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Air France-KLM, led by Jean-Marc Janail­lac, is of­fer­ing Chi­nese flour­ishes on its flights be­tween China and Europe, in­clud­ing in­ter­preters and a sump­tu­ous Chi­nese menu.

AirFrance-KLMsays its pas­sen­gers will be im­pressed by the many new Chi­nese cul­tural fea­tures it is­nowof­fer­ing on its ser­vices be­tweenChina and Europe — in­clud­ing Chi­nese in­ter­preters and a lav­ish Chi­nese menu.

The changes have been cus­tom­ized for the Chi­nese mar­ket by the avi­a­tion group, which boasts long links to the Chi­nese mar­ket. Air France launched its Paris-Shang­hai route­way back in 1966 with its Boe­ing 707 “Chateau de Chev­erny”. It was the first Euro­pean air­line fly­ing to China, and the first in­ter­na­tional flight from China to theWest.

This Septem­ber, less than two months after tak­ing up the po­si­tion as Chair­man and CEO of the Air France-KLM Group, Jean-Marc Janail­lac made Shang­hai his first over­seas des­ti­na­tion, as part of the 50th an­niver­sary to mark the launch of the land­mark link be­tween China and Europe.

Janail­lac re­cently talked with­China Daily about the air­line’s strat­egy. The fol­low­ing are edited ex­cerpts from the in­ter­view.

What is the im­pact of the slower eco­nomic growth on your busi­ness? Plane travel is di­rectly

linked to eco­nomic growth. Right now not only routes be­tween China and Europe, but also other in­ter­na­tional routes are see­ing less de­mand. All the air­lines are af­fected.

We have a very good rev­enue man­age­ment sys­tem, which en­ables us to do bet­ter than our­com­peti­tors in terms of the re­duced rev­enues.

Al­though the econ­omy and global sit­u­a­tion are not as strong as be­fore, I think the mar­ket is go­ing to see a healthy growth of Chi­nese tourists to Europe.

And our part­ner­ship with China East­ern and China South­ern al­lows us to have di­rect con­nec­tions to many Chi­nese cities.

What’s Air France-KLM’s big­gest achieve­ment in China?

Air France and KLM were the first Euro­pean air­lines to fly to Bei­jing, Shang­hai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Wuhan and Xi­a­men. We have been in­vest­ing con­tin­u­ously to strengthen our net­work con­nect­ing Europe to China. Today, Air France-KLM is the lead­ing Euro­pean car­rier in terms of ca­pac­ity from Europe to China and we will main­tain our fo­cus to fur­ther en­hance our prod­ucts, ser­vices and des­ti­na­tion pos­si­bil­i­ties in China.

How have your on­line ticket sales on Alibaba’s e-com­merce plat­form per­formed?

It’s worked. Since Fe­bru­ary our on­line sales has grown sig­nif­i­cantly, by be­tween 10 per­cent and 15 per­cent, while our tra­di­tional busi­ness is a bit down.

We ex­pect to greatly en­hance our on­line sales rev­enues for Air France-KLM in China, and to pro­mote the group’s recog­ni­tion among Alibaba’s huge con­sumer data­base.

What can an avi­a­tion group do to tap into China’s rapid e-com­merce growth?

We have on­line sites to sell our tick­ets and today, nearly one-third of our world­wide tick­ets are sold on­line. Our over­all goal is to sell 50 per­cent of tick­ets on­line, world­wide, within a cou­ple of years.

In China we are look­ing into the de­vel­op­ment of Al­itrip, and we are try­ing to de­velop sim­i­lar part­ner­ships in other parts of the world, in case it is rel­e­vant.

In China you have a lot of group travel to in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tions and th­ese groups can­not yet be sold on­line.

To what ex­tend has the re­cent po­lit­i­cal up­heaval in Europe af­fected your busi­ness?

Of course ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Europe im­pacted the num­ber of pas­sen­gers (who) chose our air­lines this year, es­pe­cially from China.

We have seen quite an im­por­tant de­crease from group trav­el­ers … and the Schen­gen visa process is also hav­ing a neg­a­tive im­pact on the num­ber of Chi­nese tourists go­ing to Europe.

But we are quite con­fi­dent that we are go­ing to see a re­bound in 2017, since the sit­u­a­tion has sta­bi­lized now.

We have made a se­ries of ef­forts to con­vince Chi­nese trav­el­ers that it is in­ter­est­ing and safe to go to Europe. Group trips from China to Europe are down 40 per­cent from the be­gin­ning of this year.

What is Air France-KLM’s cur­rent pres­ence and mar­ket share in China? How im­por­tant is China to your global growth strat­egy?

Nor­mally we do not share our mar­ket share fig­ures for com­pet­i­tive rea­sons, be­cause we are a listed com­pany.

This sum­mer, Air FranceKLM is of­fer­ing a to­tal of 90 weekly flights to nine des­ti­na­tions in China from its two hub­satParis-Charles de Gaulle and Am­s­ter­dam-Schiphol air­ports.

How have you mod­i­fied your prod­ucts to ap­peal to Chi­nese cus­tomers?

Since 1966, Air France has im­ple­mented tai­lor-made ser­vices for all cus­tomers trav­el­ling to and fromChina, be­fore, dur­ing and after their trip.

We of­fer the most in­no­va­tive prod­ucts on our Chi­nese routes: new travel cab­ins, per­son­al­ized ser­vices, and prod­ucts de­vel­oped ex­clu­sively for Chi­nese cus­tomers.

At Paris-Charles de Gaulle air­port, we have a spe­cial team of staff speak­ingMan­darin and Can­tonese who are avail­able to as­sist cus­tomers with arrivals, check-ins and when they have con­nect­ing flights.

What’s the se­cret of your suc­cess?

I don’t have a se­cret. Just a com­mit­ment to the com­pany I have worked with. I am very proud to have this po­si­tion, but I’malso quite aware of the chal­lenges we face.

I was a board mem­ber of Air France be­tween 1989 and 1993. This is a job you must do with ef­fi­ciency and pas­sion.

How do you de­fine ef­fec­tive lead­er­ship in a multi­na­tional com­pany?

The first is to give a vi­sion, a strat­egy in or­der for peo­ple to work out what and why they are do­ing what they are do­ing, and in which di­rec­tion the com­pany is head­ing.

The sec­ond is to de­cide and make the de­ci­sions.

The third di­rec­tion is to em­ploy peo­ple, to en­gage and to mo­ti­vate them, to give peo­ple a de­sire to fol­low and reach their goals.

In or­der to do that, you have to pro­vide an ex­am­ple of man­age­ment with re­spect and in­tegrity.

What are your hob­bies?

I like read­ing, visit­ing in­ter­est­ing mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture, run­ning and play­ing ten­nis and swim­ming in my spare time. I used to be a very good wind surfer and I used to ride horses.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Jean-Marc Janail­lac, chair­man and CEO of the Air France-KLM Group.

On­line

See more by scan­ning the code.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.