Asia Pacific VP talks strikes, improving competitiveness

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Asia Pacific VP talks strikes, improving competitiveness


Antoine Pussiau, senior vice president of Air France’s Asia Pacific division. [LEE HO-JEONG]

PARIS - Antoine Pussiau, senior vice president of Air France’s Asia Pacific division, said Air France has no problem with its employees going on strike and noted that France has a long history of tolerating free expression.

During an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily at his office in Paris earlier this month, Pussiau stressed that the airliner is doing its best to make sure its customers are not affected. He also talked about how technology will help improve communication services and rising competition of from other European cities.

Q. On the additional flights between May and October, was it difficult to get government approval?

. In terms of slots, Incheon is congested. We have been requesting certain timing for arrival and departure to be able to fly at the right time for other flights connecting to the European network.

We had to really request the authority managing the slots for coordination. Finally, we got almost the right time. [Currently] we are quite happy about the response of [our] passengers, and the forward booking for the summer is good.

Air France is swirled in a labor strike. Would this affect your service?

France is a country where people have expressed themselves for centuries, [and we allow them to voice their rights]. [But] when we look at the statistics compared with other European countries, it’s hard to say there are more frequent strikes in France.

While the number of employees participating in the strike is limited to 10 percent of the ground staff and 25 percent of the pilots, this could still disorganize operations.

That’s why we are trying to prevent possible inconveniences from the strike from affecting our customers.

We are very vocal and present on social media. In Korea, we provide 24/7 service through Kakao Talk. If you have questions, we can answer them through Kakao Talk.

The European market is becoming competitive. What different strategy are you employing?

Competition is rough, which means the market is strong. The traffic between Europe and Korea has been increasing a lot during the last 10 years. It has more than doubled to two million passengers. Also, the capacity has increased a lot. Not only are Koreans traveling through European carriers, but also other carriers, and there are more choices in routes, like arriving in Europe through other hubs.

We have good products ranging from business to premium economy. We are dedicated to our Korean customers, including Korean meals on board and Korean speaking staff.

How is the marketing plan for Korean customers different from other Asian markets?

What we see is that Korean passengers are more open to new forms of traveling. They are more eager to discover new cities and new regions rather than just visiting popular cities like Paris, London, Rome and Amsterdam. Koreans are beyond that, and their travel plans are more specific, like going on gastronomy tours or discovering nightlife.

What’s the future?

Digital is something important. More and more, the interaction with customers is becoming instant and personalized. Ten years ago, when booking a flight, you had to make a call and wait for your ticket.

Today it’s already digital, and in the future, not only will you have a direct link to the company, but the company will be also able to monitor from the beginning until the end to provide real-time service. For example, we will be able to track our customer’s luggage real-time and offer relevant information or alert them about changes to boarding times.

Where was your last vacation in France, and where would you recommend?

I don’t spend a lot of [my vacation] time in France. But if I do, I go visit my parents in Loire, which is roughly 20 minutes from Paris. It’s a very nice place to go, with old castles.

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