Air France KLM set for take off in 2009

Even if the aviation industry across the world is experiencing one of the bleakest times in its history, the predictions for the local market are still positive, insiders expecting roughly 5% growth in 2009.

“Although it is too early for predictions, I think the aviation market in Romania will grow by roughly 5% in 2009, and Air France KLM plans to maintain the growth. If the Romanian market will not record any increase in 2009, I don’t see any other European market that could”, Alexandru Dobrescu (photo), director of Air France KLM Romania told Wall-Street.

The January results don’t seem to attune to the optimistic predictions, however the peak season in the aviation industry starts no sooner than April. “The signals we pick up both from outside and from domestic market are not the most positive: in January, some 25% less airplane tickets were sold via billing settlement plan (through which nearly 80% airplane tickets are sold in Romania), from a year-ago period, and it never happened before,” said the representative of Air France KLM, operator who reported 81% occupancy rate of aircrafts in January this year.

He expects many airline operators to ground aircrafts and eliminate flights this year. “Adaptability will be the core factor in 2009. Only companies with proper, comprehensive vision and flexibility in business plan will withstand the tough market conditions”, Dobrescu pointed out.

The fact that Romania is one of the most profitable, and an important market for large carriers is proven by the appointment as local managers of very important persons inside the airline companies. “The operators have a special approach for Romanian market: they appoint people with the ability to understand the local market, with expertise and who make strong recommendations inside the group. For example Malev, which grew significantly since Madalina Cretu took office, Austrian Airline, whose local operations are headed by Heirich Vystoupil, or even Lufthansa under the management of Stefan Versemann”, Dobrescu added.

In order to achieve this year’s objectives, a 5% growth, Air France KLM brings more news. “Together with Tarom, we will launch the first daily flight from Bucharest to Amsterdam, and will be included in the summer timetable. This decision was made given the fact that no less than 80% of the passengers travelling on this route continue their travel, Amsterdam being a transfer point easy to transit.

Still in code share with Tarom, Air France will increase frequency of Bucharest-Paris in 2009. Air France is currently operating five daily flights from Bucharest to Paris (three operated by Air France and two by the national company).

In 2009, the airline operator plans to expand outside Bucharest. “We plan on extending in other airports in Romania, following to introduce this year a new route in our portfolio: Cluj-Napoca – Paris.

As of June2, Air France and Delta Airline will jointly reintroduce direct flights between International Airport Henri Coanda Otopeni in Bucharest and John F. Kennedy (JFK) in New York.

The company recorded a 10% increase in traffic from Bucharest to Paris and 6% growth in the flight from Bucharest to Amsterdam. The occupancy rate of Air France KLM’s routes had the same upward trend: 2% for KLM and 3% for Air France.

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