NEW YORK -- With a new state-of-the-art terminal set to open at its
Paris hub this summer, Air France is busy pursuing its goal of
becoming the premier leisure and business carrier from the U.S. to
destinations in France as well as other popular European markets
Quicker connections and better service at Charles de Gaulle
Airport's new Terminal E -- where 80% of flights will dock at
jetways -- coupled with the new business and first-class cabins and
Boeing 777-300 widebody jets to debut in April 2004, should help
the carrier capture ever more transatlantic market share, said
Christopher Korenke, the carrier's vice president and general
manager for the U.S.
"Our room to grow is not only France -- although we're proud of
our [national] origins and [French] service standards -- but growth
can occur only in the way we wish by focusing also on destinations
beyond," he said, noting that 55% of the airline's global passenger
revenue is generated by markets outside France.
"It's a huge success story that only has become possible thanks
to the Paris hub," he said.
Connecting service to Italy already accounts for 10% of Air
France's bookings out of the U.S.; after Terminal E opens for
business on June 17, the airline will begin parking flights from
New York, Rome and Milan, Italy, closer together to ease passenger
In time, all flights from the U.S. to Charles de Gaulle will
arrive at Terminal E.
"We'll have a terminal with better, wider spaces and more
arrivals lounges along with the huge enhancement of our connecting
facilities," said Korenke.
"What's planned in two to three years' time is leaving terminals
A and B altogether and concentrating operations in terminals E and
Other growth markets for Air France include flights via Paris to
Belgium, Germany, Spain and Switzerland. Korenke said he is in
constant negotiations with tourism boards, chambers of commerce and
tour operators to craft new products to those markets for U.S.
"Getting a foot in the door with tour operators is a nice way to
double up traffic," he said. "This year, you will see new programs
from us to non-French destinations, or products that combine France
and other destinations."
The carrier is well-placed to serve U.S. travelers to several
western European countries, with more than 10 flights a day to Rome
and several daily to Florence, Naples and Venice in Italy; 10
flights daily to Madrid, nine to Barcelona and three to Valencia in
Spain; and 11 each day to Geneva.
"All these highways are generating huge amounts of traffic for
us," said Korenke.
"And because we're relying on international markets [in addition
to] the French one, we've a kind of commitment to enhance service
via a number of very heavy investments," he added -- hence the
terminal, cabin and aircraft upgrades.
The new emphasis on multiple markets also will shield Air France
from dips in the fortunes of any given destination.
Given the situation in Iraq and political tensions between the
U.S. and some European countries, some transatlantic routes -- such
as those to France -- could be negatively affected.
"We have to be a global player and a player in all European
markets in order to compensate if one destination is lacking in
traffic," said Korenke.
For more information or to book, call (800) 446-9708 or visit www.airfrance.com/us.