Air France wants to become a more upscale, premium carrier.
I’ve been so impressed with Ben’s Smith brief tenure at Air France-KLM. He has mended labor relations and is making great progress on overcoming what has been a turbulent period for the airline. He’s also thinking outside the box for an airline that often has resisted change.
Smith sat down with La Tribune and offers insight on how Air France will re-structure its longhaul aircraft in the months and years to come. Put simply, more premium and less economy. By focusing on “high contribution” passengers, Air France hopes to retain its premium image while increasing its bottom line.
Smith precisely pinpoints the problem.
We are currently the only major company that does not yet offer a consistent product like fully-flat beds in business class.
What refreshingly frank language! Emirates and Korean Air also come to mind, but Smith is correct: the inconsistent business class experience on Air France is uncompetitive in 2019.
Air France has 101 longhaul aircraft and only 51 (44 Boeing 777s and 7 Boeing 787s) have the latest business class product in which every passenger has direct aisle access. The flagship A380s does not even have lie-flat seats!
Harmonizing the fleet will be Air France’s top priority and in doing so it will improve business class and add more premium economy class seats at the expense of economy class.
“It means Joon has no place and it will disappear,” Smith added.
I recently wrote about the dismantling of Joon. The subsidiary served to confuse Air France customers and was the butt of many jokes for the carrier’s push to cater to millennials. Ironically, the A340 business class product on Joon was far better than the A330 or A380 business class product on Air France.
> Read More: The Real Reason Air France Is Eliminating Joon
Standardizing Air France’s reverse herringbone business class seat across the longhaul fleet is an essential goal. Adding more premium economy at the expense of economy class is an interesting move. We’ll see how it all plays out, but Smith has correctly identified Air France’s biggest onboard issue. That’s a start.