Last November, Jet Airways and Air France-KLM had signed a first-of-its-kind cooperation agreement on the India-Europe market, which had strengthened the three-year old partnership between the airlines. The airlines now want to enhance the cooperation further.
KLM's president and chief executive officer Pieter Elbers told Mint yesterday that Air France-KLM wants to deepen its alliance with the Indian carrier to exploit an expected double-digit growth in the air travel markets of India and North America.
"First we put connections and code-share in place on each other's network. Now we are taking it [the alliance with Jet Airways] to the next level in terms of customer interface," Elbers said on the sidelines of the International Aviation Summit-India in New Delhi. He added that the two airlines are also working towards aligning their frequent flyer programmes.
The previous pact had given India's second-largest airline wider access to Europe and North America, while boosting the European airline's access to the Indian market, the world's fastest-growing aviation market. The idea was to connect India to a vast Trans-Atlantic network via the Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam-Schiphol hubs.
"Everyone knows that there is a huge flow of passengers from India and the US. Using our hubs in Amsterdam and CDG, which are two of the strongest hubs in Europe and connecting them directly to the network of Jet Airways is helping us," said Elbers, adding that the airline now boasts a "strong position" in the Europe, US and Indian markets.
He also said that he was "impressed" at how swiftly the alliance between the two airlines was moving forward, especially compared to the amount of time it took to build alliances in the US and China. Commenting on the scope of leveraging on Jet Airway's domestic network, Elbers added that "At the end of the day, it is our job as aviation executives to make it possible for people to travel between say Amritsar, an Indian city, and a city in Denmark".
However, he did not comment on whether Air France-KLM would invest in the financially-troubled domestic airline, which recently announced its second consecutive quarterly loss. Earlier this week, Jet Airways informed the exchange that rating agency ICRA had downgraded long term ratings of its borrowing programmes. The short-term rating assigned to the airline's Rs 3,950 crore short-term, non-fund-based facilities were also downgraded.