AF-KLM group have announced that their short haul leisure subsidiary based in Amsterdam might be making new forays back into the international market.
Having traditionally been focused on European and North African short haul leisure destinations, Transavia does have a brief history of operations to other long haul holiday destinations such as Dubai, St. Maarten, Kathmandu and Phuket. All were however rather short lived and varying levels of disasters (Kathmandu lasted the longest).
What’s also interesting is that traditionally Transavia was an airline with a stellar reputation as a full service foil to parent KLM and not the leisure low cost player it is today. But the market has changed, and AF-KLM group are attempting to change with it by introducing a much lower cost base to their existing long haul leisure operations.
It seems that the airline’s parent company is attempting another go at Transavia long haul, with the target of holiday destinations over 9-10 hours away from either Amsterdam or Paris. In the process it will oversee the handing over of Transavia as a wholly owned subsidiary of KLM to form Transavia Europe, a new holding company that will merge into the larger AF-KLM corp. It will be based in Dublin – so we see what’s going on there (massive aviation tax breaks in Ireland).
So this is a tricky one. On the one hand, it makes a lot of sense – long haul leisure flying is a real pain in the mmm to maintain profitability (hence the 400+ seater 777s from AF at Orly and BA’s 3 class Gatwick ‘Beach Fleet’). While KL maintains a relatively low premium and consistent configuration on their main fleet, controls crew and union costs and operate a rather straight forward 2 class system (fine, 2.5 but Economy Comfort is not a bonafide Prem Y product) – their siblings in Paris have a very high cost and complex union employment structure, operate a very varied fleet ranging from single class Economy to a 4 class product and have a history of labor issues.
So what will happen if and when Transavia and their employees are integrated into the larger AF-KLM group? Given the proposed set up all signs are pointing to Transavia taking over Paris Orly operations to the French Caribbean and Francophone Africa as well as perhaps opening new leisure destinations in Asia and South America. Places like Kathmandu and Phuket might be back on the docket and destinations such as Colombo or Lombok might be entertained as new ventures.
But. It is completely laughable to think that the AF crew unions will take to this idea in any way shape or form.
We shall see what transpires in the coming weeks and months but if this truly is the case perhaps be cautious in booking an AF flight in the near future – expect more union strife and strikes. The Orly crew base already has a lower T&C contract out in comparison to their De Gaulle counterparts and while it is indeed true that Transavia will further reduce costs, it might not be worth it to AF-KLM group to even stir the waters on this one – the potential costs of yet another massive crew strike and the media fallout will again be costly.
Once again it seems the supposedly ‘wealthier’ and ‘stronger’ Air France is dragging the much more functional and financially successful KLM down the drain with this attempt at another cost cutting joint venture under an already diluted larger joint venture.
So to sum it all up: prepare for strikes in Paris! Skyteamers be aware!