Guilhem Mallet
General Manager
Air France-KL Group in Mexico
/
View from the Top

Air France-KLM to Neutralize Emissions by 2050

By Alfonso Núñez | Fri, 01/21/2022 - 11:34

Q: How do codeshare agreements with ITA Airways help Air France-KLM advance?

 

A: A strong relationship with ITA Airways, the new Italian flight carrier launched in October 2021, is important for Air France-KLM to consolidate our position in the EU market. Our codeshare agreement with ITA will allow us to offer clients more connections in Italy. ITA also joined the SkyTeam alliance, in which Air France-KLM, Delta Airlines and Aeroméxico are also partners. We are happy with this agreement and eager to move forward toward a broader partnership and alliance with ITA.

 

Q: How is the Flying Blue program attracting more passengers to fly with Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines?

 

A: The Flying Blue program is one of the most efficient and broad frequent flyer programs in the industry, with numerous members in Mexico and abroad. We adjusted the program in July 2021 to offer our clients more availability. Flying Blue members have miles credited while flying that can be used to book other flights. The key difference from other frequent flyer programs is that it is not limited to certain cabin classes.

 

Q: How is the group approaching sustainability initiatives?

 

A: The airline industry is responsible for 2-3 percent of carbon emissions worldwide. If we do not do anything, emissions will increase. We are engaged at a global and local level to address this matter. Globally, the first action is fleet renewal. Newer aircraft have a much smaller emissions per passenger footprint than older planes. For example, in Mexico before the pandemic, we used the Airbus A380, which has four engines and high emissions per passenger, and the Boeing 747. We decided to phase them out and start using modern aircraft, such as the Boeing 777 and Boeing Dreamliner, which perform 10 flights per week between Paris and Mexico: seven with the Boeing 777 and three with the Dreamliner. In April 2022, we will increase the number of flights with the Dreamliner to five. In December, we announced Air France’s largest order for new aircraft in recent years: between 140 and 160.

The second action is to increasingly use sustainable aviation fuel, which reduces emissions by 70 percent in comparison to regular jet fuel. In late 2021, KLM opened flights from Amsterdam to Cancun and we decided to have the first flight using sustainable aviation fuel. It was the first flight of its kind to Mexico and showed Air France-KLM’s commitment to reducing emissions.

The third action is offsetting. To be carbon neutral by 2050 we want to reduce emissions at the origin and offset what we cannot reduce. We offer several options to offset emissions, including allowing clients to offset the emissions of their trip. We have started to offer sustainable contracts to our B2B clients to offset their emissions.

 

Q: How important are these sustainability efforts for passengers?

 

A: We are communicating these strategies because we know that all clients are interested in these programs and we are receiving an increasing number of questions regarding our engagement in sustainability and climate change. People are increasingly invested in decreasing their environmental footprint.

In 2021, we invested in a six-month training program for the Air France-KLM team in Mexico to know our personal ecological footprint with the aim of reducing it and become more sustainable also in our personal activities. We want to make sure that each and every employee is engaged in sustainability.

 

Q: What efforts are being made in regard to diversity and inclusion?

 

A: We are industry leaders in diversity and inclusion and just received a women empowerment prize in Mexico for our diverse and inclusive team. The Mexican managing team has more women than men because we base our hiring decisions on talent.

 

Q: What expansions have you planned for 2022 in Latin America?

 

A: We are always looking for new opportunities worldwide and especially in Latin America because it is a strategic region. We grew in capacity in 2021 and in 1Q22, we will have 32 weekly flights between the EU and Mexico, 20-25 percent more than in 2019. We are still suffering from the pandemic but we continue to grow in Mexico thanks to its good mix of corporate and leisure traffic. In the post-pandemic world, people are increasingly combining leisure and business travel due to the possibility to work remotely. Mexico is well positioned for this combination thanks to its amazing leisure destinations and large corporate traffic. We opened a new KLM route to Cancun in 2021 and continue to monitor other possible destinations in Latin America and Mexico.

 

Q: How are these expansion plans impacting the airline’s purchasing and fleet renewal efforts?

 

A: We are growing the team in Mexico because we have more flights and activity. We will have up to 15 flights to Cancun from Paris and Amsterdam in 2Q22. We are preparing the team to handle the increase in activity in Mexico City and are rethinking every aspect of the passenger’s journey in relation to sanitary conditions, from the passenger’s arrival to the airport until they reach their destination. We have ensured the launch, boarding, checking and arrival processes follow the strictest safety regulations. Air France-KLM has received the Apex Diamond Award, the highest recognition in terms of safety in our industry. This shows that we are among the best in the industry when it comes to respecting passenger safety.

 

Q: What are your plans to deal with current and emerging COVID-19 variants?

 

A: We are very much dependent on travel restrictions worldwide and in Mexico. We saw a slowdown in terms of booking reservations in 1Q22 but there was only a small impact in terms of booking trends. We will learn to travel with these new variants, ensuring that passengers will be able to fly safely.

Alfonso Núñez Alfonso Núñez Journalist & Industry Analyst