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Air France overhauls services to draw larger market share
( 2003-10-07 10:51) (China Daily)

Despite the current bleak business climate, European aviation powerhouse Air France recently unveiled a totally revamped range of ground and in-flight products, at considerable expense, in a move to satisfy anticipated customer expectations.

"Although the aviation industry is facing many difficulties worldwide nowadays, we have not lost determination to keep moving ahead. Instead, we will keep investing for the future,'' Jean-Cyril Spinetta, chairman of the European carrier, said at the Top Resa Tourism Fair, held in Deauville, France.

"That is why we are here to offer new products and services. They are also the result of intense market research and real responses to customers' voices,'' Spinetta added.

Air France has, according to Spinetta, conducted numerous customer-orientated surveys and studies over the past several years to redesign its entire range of products and services to meet ever-changing passenger demands.

Two main new features that Air France is offering are the redesigned l'Espace Premiere First Class, at the pinnacle of luxury with added space and privacy, and the further enhanced l'Espace Affairs Business Class for optimum passenger comfort.

From November 2003, passengers will be able to enjoy the new products and services, which will be offered on many of the airline's important routes around the world. But it is still too early to list them, Spinetta indicated.

"The launch of Air France's new travel concept in 2003 is a major step in our long-term commitment to customer satisfaction. It has taken over 300 million euros in investment and five years of work to bring this project to fruition.

"A project such as this will enable us to significantly strengthen our position as an major airline in both Europe and worldwide,'' Spinetta stressed.

Facing the question whether and when the new services would be offered on flights between China and France, Air France executives said "it is a little bit early to decide yet, but it is very possible for the high-end products and services to be adopted on Air France's flights to Chinese destinations, such as Hong Kong, Beijing, and even our future destination -- Guangzhou.

For Air France, China is a fledgling market with great potential.

"Undoubtedly, China is one of the most important markets for Air France. Air France will further its development in the Chinese market,'' said Marc Benedetti, executive vice-president and managing director Asia-Pacific of Air France.

Air France will open its Guangzhou-Paris route in January next year.

Currently, Air France flies to three cities in China: daily flights from Paris to Beijing, daily flights from Hong Kong to Paris, and 12 flights per week from Shanghai to Paris.

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