Exclusive interview with Air France-KLM president Pierre Henri Gourgeon


PARIS (eTN) – Skyteam has stepped up its offensive to Asia as the alliance celebrates its tenth anniversary. “We are putting our future development priority into three areas: Latin America – and especially Brazil, India, and Southeast Asia, some of the fastest-growing markets in the world. However, we are not growing for the sake of becoming bigger and bigger. Our focus at Skyteam will still be quality and rentability over quantity,” explained Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, president of Air France-KLM. Exclusively for eTurboNews, Air France chief executive gave an insight into the future growth of Skyteam in Asia. “We are now a driving force in Asia, especially with the integration of China Eastern Airlines next year,” he explained.

Skyteam currently has a market share of 13 percent within Asia, far behind Star Alliance with a share of 24 percent. However, Gourgeon is confident that the alliance will soon match Star. “We are likely to represent a quarter of all capacities within the region. And with China Eastern, we should reach a share of 40 percent to 50 percent in China itself,” said Mr. Gourgeon. The new carrier will enter the alliance with its fusion partner, Shanghai Airlines, which is, so far, a member of Star. “Shanghai Airlines is discreetly pulling out of our competitor,” told Mr. Gourgeon.

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Skyteam will further strengthen its position in China. According to Mr. Gourgeon, China Airlines is most likely to join the alliance. Taiwan’s flag carrier has already received the support of China Eastern, which recently introduced its management to Skyteam. By then, Skyteam will become the largest alliance for the greater China area. “We are now looking to implement a joint venture with our Chinese partners as we did with Delta Air Lines in the United States,” revealed Mr. Gourgeon.

Although Skyteam further looks for a partner in India – Jet Airways could be the right airline, as both Air India an Kingfisher Airlines are due to join, respectively, Star Alliance and Oneworld – Southeast Asia is rapidly gaining weight for the grouping. Vietnam Airlines joined officially on June 21, adding 20 new destinations to the SkyTeam network. “I can coonfirm that we are now in advanced discussions with Garuda Indonesia,” he explained.