Air France and KLM celebrated the opening of their new joint office in London on 6 July at a champagne ceremony that has been repeated around the world since the two carriers merged in 2005.
The SkyTeam members now share offices in more than 50 cities and plan to have 95 joint town offices by the end of March 2007. The new joint offices helped the carriers generate 350 million ($449 million) in savings in fiscal 2005-06, including 27 million in commercial savings. Air France executive vice-president Patrick Alexandre and KLM executive vice-president commercial Paul Gregorowitsch predict these figures will increase to 61 million and 465 million in fiscal 2006-07.
Shortly after Air France and KLM merged in April 2004, they predicted the merger would generate 27 million in commercial savings in the first year. "We kept our promise and we'll deliver," says Alexandre.
"It's quite unique what KLM and Air France are doing together," says Gregorowitsch. KLM has kicked out fellow SkyTeam member Alitalia from the Plesman House at Hatton Cross near Heathrow Airport to make room for Air France. KLM has been in the home-like office since 1990 while Air France previously had its UK and Ireland office in nearby Hammersmith.
Air France and KLM currently have 330 employees across the UK and Ireland, including 180 at the Plesman House. Many of these employees joined a team of executives from both carriers, led by Alexandre and Gregorowitsch, and the UK Ambassadors to France and the Netherlands to cut the ribbon on the new joint office and toast the completion of a refurbishment.
The EVPs reiterated that neither carrier has cut any jobs since the merger and promised there will be no job cuts in the current fiscal year. "We didn't have any issues in the management side," adds Alexandre.
The carriers enjoy an 8.6% market share in the region, with over 800 flights per week from 17 airports. Only one-fifth of the carriers' passengers from the region are heading to France and the Netherlands while the other 80% connect in Amsterdam and Paris to the over 200 destinations the carriers serve worldwide.