Indonesian passengers now have another option to get to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle International Airport as French carrier Air France is set to provide an option via Kuala Lumpur.
Air France-KLM country manager Dirk Buitelaar said on Monday that the flights on the Paris-Kuala Lumpur route would start in April 2013 and provide a unique connection for Indonesian passengers.
“Currently, KLM flies the Amsterdam-Jakarta route via Kuala Lumpur daily. The new route is unique as both long-haul routes meet in Kuala Lumpur,” he said when visiting The Jakarta Post offices on Monday.
“Indonesian passengers wishing to travel to Paris can fly KLM from Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur and then take Air France to Paris.”
KLM also flies the Amsterdam-Denpasar route daily via Singapore. Air France also flies to Singapore.
KLM, the world’s oldest airline still operating under its original name, merged with Air France in 2004, forming the Air France-KLM group.
KLM uses a combination of Boeing 777-200/300 series wide-body aircraft on both routes to Jakarta and Denpasar. Both aircraft have 35 business class seats. The difference is in economy class, with 777-200 having 283 seats and 777-300 having 390.
When asked about the load factor on both routes, Buitelaar said both routes were profitable.
Buitelaar said that using Kuala Lumpur as a hub was not an attempt to avoid Changi, saying that the group was the largest European operator in Changi. He argued that Kuala Lumpur had less traffic than Changi, making it ideal for expansion.
“Especially after Qantas decided to terminate its cooperation with Air France in place of Emirates. Malaysia seems the logical partner,” he added.
Responding to a question, Buitelaar said that KLM and Air France had different target markets in their positioning. “Air France is more business heavy. That is why they have first class while KLM does not. On the other hand, KLM is more toward leisure passengers,” he said.
“As a small country, we are focusing to move people from one country to another through the Netherlands. Usually, leisure passengers do not mind to do so.”
Buitelaar added that Air France might return to Indonesia in the future considering the fact that Indonesia was growing rapidly.
“Especially after the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport completes its expansion stages. But it is still several years down the road before Air France is returning to Indonesia,” he said.
This year, KLM celebrates the 88th anniversary of the Amsterdam-Jakarta route. The route was the world’s longest regular scheduled route prior to World War II.(iwa)