Air France-KLM, China Southern Airlines and XiamenAirsaid they were streamlining their two existing agreements into a single joint venture (JV) carrying some 1.25 million passengers per year between Europe and China.
The aim is to strengthen links between the partners and offer passengers smoother, seamless travel between Amsterdam and Paris and destinations in China including Beijing—served from Amsterdam—Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Xiamen as well as consolidating Air France-KLM’s position in the Chinese market, the airlines said in a statement July 16.
KLM president and CEO Pieter Elbers, who is also one of two interim deputy CEOs of the Air France-KLM group, said the JV “serves to further intensify Air France-KLM’s interests in China. Joining forces offers our customers an extensive, seamless network within China and Europe.”
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and China Southern Airlines have had a JV in place on the Amsterdam-Beijing service since 2006, with XiamenAir joining this partnership on the Amsterdam-Xiamen route in 2015.
In 2010, Air France formed a partnership with China Southern Airlines to create a JV on the Paris-Guangzhou route.
Air France-KLM, which is currently without a CEO as the process of finding a replacement for Jean-Marc Janaillac continues, identified strengthening existing alliances and developing new ones as a key strand of the Trust Together plan to improve competitiveness it launched in 2016. It has been making progress since, signing a wide-ranging north Atlantic JV with the UK’s Virgin Atlantic and US-based Delta Air Lines and partnerships with China Eastern Airlines, Jet Airways in India and Vietnam Airlines.
Air France-KLM EVP-commercial, sales and alliances Patrick Alexandre said the single joint venture will “preserve the benefits our customers enjoy and safeguard Air France-KLM’s position in China.”
The airlines already cooperate on airport handling, catering and aircraft maintenance services, with Air France-KLM Engineering & Maintenance carrying out engine maintenance for XiamenAir’s Boeing 787 fleet. “More closely integrated partnerships are also being discussed in other areas, such as aircraft maintenance, or cargo operations,” the partners said.
Air France-KLM customers can also earn Flying Blue frequent flyer miles on all flights within the joint venture.