Air France-KLM’s Director-General for the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean /// photos : air france image bank
The aviation industry has not been exempted from the recent jolts to the
world economy. In consequence, both
Air Mauritius, where Rogers owns 13.5% of the shares, and Air France, which it has been representing in Mauritius for the past 65 years, have both been forced to implement restructuring plans. The French airline is also seeking to strengthen its partnership with the Mauritian national carrier. Alain Malka, Air France-KLM’s Director-General for the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean, evaluates the situation for PRESENCE in the light of the short visit of the company’s CEO, Jean-Cyril Spinetta,
to Mauritius in March 2012.
What was the purpose of Jean-Cyril Spinetta’s visit to Mauritius in March?
Setting up in Mauritius sits
As Air Mauritius had announced its restructuring plan, it was important for Air France to reaffirm, both to management and the main shareholder, its wish to pursue its partnership and indeed strengthen it.
Air France is one of the world’s major airlines. How is it facing up to the economic crisis and the constant increases in the price of fuel?
Just like Air Mauritius, Air France is suffering enormously from increased fuel costs. And just like Air Mauritius, we’ve launched a transformation plan (Transform 2015) which contains all the basic elements in our partner’s plan: competitiveness, fleet reduction, management, group structure and so on.
More specifically, what has been the impact on passenger numbers on the France-Mauritius route, bearing in mind that France is the main market for Mauritian tourism?
The route between France and Mauritius is
currently over-supplied. The Air Mauritius-
Air France joint venture faces increasing competition despite falling tourist numbers. Air France has brought the Boeing 777-300ER into service on the flight, which provides an excellent way of redressing matters and satisfying customers. It is more economic than the Boeing 747 and its three cabins are better able to match customer demand. The plane, moreover, is equipped with new seating in Business and Premium Voyageur classes for added comfort. Finally, Air Mauritius has decided to focus its European operations on the Paris-Mauritius route, taking advantage of Air France’s internal and European network for connecting flights.
Your company has recently strengthened its collaboration and code-sharing agreement with Air Mauritius on the Mauritius-Reunion route. What are the advantages of this partnership for travellers and for the two airlines?
In strengthening our partnership on the Mauritius-Reunion route, customers have the possibility of combining the two islands into a roundtrip ticket, for example Paris-Reunion-Mauritius-Reunion. The advantage for the two companies is creating a joint sales force to handle competition.
Do you have other projects in mind for the Indian Ocean region in the short or medium-term?
Our policy is centred around our partnerships
with Indian ocean companies: our joint venture with Air Mauritius and our more limited partnership with Air Madagascar, Our code-sharing arrangement with Air Seychelles has come to an end since the company ended its direct flights between Paris and Mahé and switched to working with a Gulf airline.
During his visit, Mr Spinetta also took the opportunity to hold talks with the management of Rogers Aviation, which represents Air France in Mauritius. What is your assessment of this collaboration, which has now been going on for 65 years?
Air France Maurice and Rogers Aviation have been working together for many years. Our collaboration is essentially based on our shared values of sincerity, respect, trust and professionalism, as well as a common pragmatic approach in dealing with economic realities.
A great example of a long-lasting relationship
On 10 February 1945, a Junker 52 piloted by Henri Roth, with 17 passengers on board, was the first plane of the Réseau de lignes aériennes françaises (which became Air France in June that same year) to land in Mauritius. Two years later, the French airline made Rogers its representative in the country. The two companies thus took off on an unbroken 65-year journey together, a great example of a long-lasting relationship. Rogers and Air France were also involved in the founding of the national carrier, Air Mauritius, in 1967.
27 years loyal service
Born in July 1961, Alain Malka has been working for Air France for 27 years. A graduate of one of the most prestigious French grandes écoles , the Ecole nationale supérieure de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace, he started out in the Transport Department. Before he became the Air France-KLM Director-General for the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean in April 2010, he was the French company’s HR Director.