From next March, Air France will extend its daily Paris-Singapore flight onwards to Jakarta, as the carrier grows its Asian presence to mitigate the slowdown in its own backyard.
If demand for the one-stop service is strong, the carrier will consider a second daily flight, said Mr Matthieu Tetaud, who moved here recently to assume his new role as commercial director for several Asian markets.
The planned Singapore-Jakarta leg comes after Air France cut capacity on its Paris-Singapore sector earlier this year by replacing the Airbus 380 superjumbo with the Boeing 777 aircraft which has about 200 fewer seats. Mr Tetaud told The Straits Times on Friday: "We had no trouble filling up the aircraft, but there was a greater need for the A380 in Shanghai."
On flying to Jakarta from Singapore, he said: "As an airline, we would like to fly direct to all destinations but to do that, you need enough demand. When there isn't, you look for a hub. The good thing about Changi is that when you land an aircraft here, you have many options for connections."
This not only benefits Air France customers wishing to access other Asian cities, but also provides the airline with feed traffic for its own onward flights.
For example, up to 40 per cent of travellers on the Singapore- Bali leg of KLM's flight from Amsterdam board the aircraft from Changi Airport, Mr Tetaud said. Air France and KLM merged about a decade ago, although the two carriers have maintained their separate brands. By the second half of next year, the Paris-based airline will operate to 23 Asian destinations.
The shift towards Asia comes even as the head office announced on Wednesday plans to cut more than 1,800 jobs in France.
The latest cuts aim to put the airline back in the black after a string of losses since the 2008 global financial crisis.