Air France-KLM: banking on a new Heathrow experience

SkyTeam’s Air France-KLM will probably be moving to its new London Heathrow home at the airport’s Terminal 4 at the end of 2008, around nine months after British Airways occupies Terminal 5.
Air France will move from its current location at Terminal 2 to join merger partner KLM at T4. So what is Air France-KLM expecting to get for its money at T4 and by when? For Air France-KLM the “main question is do they share our priority of giving us a competitive tool at T4?” says Air France general manager UK & Ireland Christine Ourmieres. The they in question is BAA.
What Air France-KLM, and indeed any carrier at Heathrow that is not in the sparkling new T5 wants is not to be stuck with the airport’s dingy old terminals for too long. They want to see solid and swift plans for revamping and refurbishing the lower number terminals.
Indeed, this is the commitment the SkyTeam Alliance partners obtained from BAA when they signed a memorandum of understanding to occupy T4 last June, says Ourmieres.
She is however, well aware of the tough task BAA faces in delivering T5 and then getting its Heathrow East rebuilding of Terminals 1 and 2 off the ground. “The challenge is to do all this at the same time,” she says. In addition there is the added pressure of delivering an all-new Heathrow in time for London’s Olympic Games that take place in the UK capital in 2012.
Air France-KLM is in on-going discussions with BAA over its investment plans for T4. There is “open communication” between the two sides. “They know what we want and I’m confident,” she says of the hoped for outcome.
However, her view that “there is no time to relax” is no understatement.

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