Air France bares direct flights from Manila to Paris
- Des Ferriols () - February 23, 2001 - 12:00am
Air France announced yesterday that it has decided to fly direct from Manila to Paris and expects to double its revenues within the year as the airline projected a three percent market growth in 2001.

Despite the country’s economic problems, Air France said more Filipinos were traveling to Europe and airlines expect a significant increase in passenger traffic as the economy catches up with the rest of Asia.

Air France Philippines general manager Gerard Lanfrey said they would fly non-stop to Paris three times a week.

According to him, this would shorten the flight time from the current 17 hours to only 14 hours and bring passengers directly to Paris, tagged as the most convenient hub to make connections to the rest of Europe.

"Air France believes in the long-term prospect of the Philippine economy so we are making aggressive moves for the long-term," Lanfrey said. "We are establishing direct flights because we know we have to anticipate the marker in order to meet the need for increased capacity."

At present, Air France flies to Paris via Bangkok. Establishing direct flight between the two cities, Lanfrey said, would give the airline economies of scale and allow it to offer competitive prices to travelers.

He said Air France would use an Airbus A340 for its Manila-Paris route for this summer season, equipped with personal TV in all classes, including economy, as part of the airline’s $130 million investment on new products and services in the next five years.

Air France said the passenger traffic between Manila to Paris consists roughly of 20 percent tourists and pilgrims headed for Lourdes, France; 30 percent overseas contract workers and Filipino immigrants to Europe with the rest being travelers on business trips.

Airline officials said Manila could also serve as an alternate jump-off point for passengers flying out of Southeast Asia to Europe.

At present, Lanfrey said Air France flies direct from Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing, with plans to open direct flights out of Vietnam and Indonesia in the future.

"Filipinos are, by nature, travelers," Lanfray said. "Moreover, when Filipinos travel they don’t just go to one place, they end up all over."

Air France said its new direct flight would strengthen the airline’s position in SkyTeam which already offers multiple departure time options on 6,402 daily flights to 451 destinations in 98 countries. Lanfray said the alliance covers all the major destinations in the northern hemisphere where nearly 80 percent of the world’s traffic flies.

"The name of the game is no longer point-to-point traveling," Lanfray said. "People are circling around the globe more and more. Since we can’t be everywhere for obvious reasons, an alliance like this is indispensable."

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