Home/ Companies / News/  Air France-KLM, IndiGo eye bigger mkt with codeshare

NEW DELHI : Air France-KLM plans to bolster its partnership with India’s largest airline IndiGo, airline executives said. The development coincides with the Tata group-owned Air India announcing plans to launch flights to Amsterdam.

“We are working on it to see how we can make some expansion for the international route of IndiGo in the sub-continent. It is a work in progress...demand is high anyway, so it is needed," said Claude Sarre, general manager Indian sub-continent.

In 2022, Air France-KLM and IndiGo announced that they had implemented a codeshare agreement allowing each airline to sell seats on other’s flights. This allowed Air France and KLM to offer their passengers access to 30 new Indian cities, and IndiGo got the right to sell seats on the European airline group’s flights on more than 300 routes.

Codeshare flights allow one airline to market the flights operated by another. The arrangement enables fliers to access a broader range of destinations. When booking a ticket, it will be issued under the flight number of the chosen carrier, even if the actual operation is carried out by a different airline.

“This codesharing is very important to make the customer more interested and less scared, very important to develop the domestic market," Sarre added.

If the current plans to expand codeshare were to fructify, a passenger flying from Amsterdam or Paris to Chennai or Bengaluru would be able to travel on an IndiGo flight further to another country in the sub-continent, such as Colombo in Sri Lanka.

Simultaneously, the European airline group is collaborating with IndiGo to align its back-end and information technology operations for the existing codeshare to work smoothly and to create attractive international connections with minimum transit time.

Interestingly, the codeshare partnership between Air France-KLM was signed with IndiGo when Pieter Elbers was the president at KLM. Elbers joined IndiGo as chief executive in September 2022 and has since been seen as a key strategist in driving IndiGo’s expansion plans in Europe.

For now, Air France-KLM’s focus lies on strengthening its partnership with IndiGo, and it has no plans to expand ties with other airlines. Air France-KLM already has an interline arrangement in place with Vistara.

“We first want to consolidate what we are doing with IndiGo as there is a lot of IT development. We have an interline with Air India, Vistara, but we don’t earn miles," Sarre said.

Air France, with a hub in Paris, and KLM, with its hub in Amsterdam, are hopeful of smoother operations and fewer queues at their airports for passengers flying out of these airports during the upcoming summer travel season.

The outlook for India remains buoyant.

“Demand in India is huge since post covid. The GDP is a key figure to show the demand in the coming months and coming years. We know we need to adapt to send more aircraft to India," Sarre said.

“KLM and Air France both define India as a focus market for sure. The past has shown that, and the future will show that as well," said Christiaan van de Koppel, commercial director of Indian sub-continent.

The airline is also watching the growth of Air India as it has recently placed an order for 470 aircraft, including 70 wide-body planes and 400 narrow-body aircraft.

“What is more interesting to see is what they do with the (400) medium-haul aircraft," Koppel said.

This is not the first time Air France-KLM is exploring an extensive partnership with an Indian airline. In 2017, the group agreed to a joint venture with the erstwhile full-service carrier Jet Airways.

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Updated: 13 May 2023, 02:16 AM IST
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