SkyTeam alliance member Air France has announced plans to introduce a new daily flight between Paris CDG and Tokyo Haneda from summer 2014, subject to receiving allocated intercontinental flight slots at the Japanese airport. The announcement follows the visit of Alexandre de Juniac, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Air France, to Tokyo last week to celebrate 60 years of Air France presence in Japan.
Air France currently serves Narita Airport in the Japanese capital, but like many other foreign airlines is pushing for access into Haneda, which is located nearer the city centre and which offers considerable domestic connection opportunities. Since 2010, Air France has been selling seats on a code-share basis on flights operated by Japan Airlines between the airport and the French capital.
“I am very pleased to be celebrating 60 years of uninterrupted Air France service to Japan. We want to strengthen our services on this strategic market by providing excellent service to Tokyo and Osaka as well as the Japanese domestic network together with our partner Japan Airlines (JAL). In addition, we are striving to develop totally customer oriented Japanese routes," said Alexandre de Juniac.
This winter, Air France-KLM is offering up to 51 weekly flights on departure from Paris Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam Schiphol, including some on a codeshare basis with JAL. This offer will be expanded from April 3, 2013 with a new link to Fukuoka operated on a three times weekly basis from Amsterdam by KLM using a Boeing 777-200.
From Paris Charles de Gaulle, Air France has four daily flights to Tokyo, two operated by itself to Narita and single flights by JAL to Haneda and Narita on which it codeshares. Air France also operates to Osaka Kansai International on a daily basis. From Amsterdam Schiphol, KLM operates between seven and nine weekly flights to Tokyo, a daily flight to Osaka and will add Fukuoka to its network in April 2013.
Looking in greater details at the Paris – Tokyo market, in 2011 an estimated 714,000 O&D passengers flew between the two cities. Air France had a 27.9 per cent share of this traffic, a market that alongside JAL is also served on a non-stop basis by All Nippon Airways (ANA) between CDG and Narita.
JAL was the first carrier to introduce long-haul flights to Europe when slot restrictions were lifted at Haneda earlier in the decade. It launched the Paris CDG link in October 2010, but just months later British Airways added direct flights between Haneda and London Heathrow from February 2011 and ANA subsequently added services to Frankfurt from January 2012 using its 787 Dreamliner.
The opening of Haneda to international traffic in recent years and its popularity for passengers has certainly forced local and foreign airlines to revise their business strategies. This week ANA has revealed that it will close its long-standing Tokyo Narita – Seoul Incheon daily route from March 31, 2013 due to a “marked decline in demand” on the route, particularly amongst business passengers who “prefer to use the Haneda to Seoul (Gimpo) service,” said the airline.