Open Skies kicks off with Air France and Delta

Air France and Delta Air Lines have officially kicked off their joint venture agreement with a joint press conference during which Pierre-Henri Gourgeon,  Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Air France-KLM, and Glen Hauenstein, Executive Vice President Network Planning and Revenue Management, Delta Air Lines, announced the launch of three trans-Atlantic routes that take full advantage of the E.U.-U.S. Open Skies Agreement.  Beginning today, the joint venture partners will operate daily nonstop flights between London-Heathrow and Los Angeles-LAX, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and twice-daily flights to New York-JFK. Air France will operate the LAX flight while Delta will operate the JFK and Atlanta flights.

According to the terms of their expanded joint venture agreement, signed October 17, 2007, the two airlines will share revenues and costs on flights operated by both carriers between London-Heathrow and the US, as well as on flights between Air France’s Paris-CDG and Lyon hubs, and Delta’s Atlanta, New York - JFK, Cincinnati and Salt Lake City hubs.

By 2010, the agreement will be extended to all trans-Atlantic flights operated by Air France and Delta between Europe and the Mediterranean on one side and North America on the other side, as well as all flights between Los Angeles and Tahiti.

Today’s launch of the new Heathrow-Los Angeles route makes Air France the first European carrier to offer its long-haul customers the benefits of Open Skies.

“Air France’s decision to launch a new transatlantic route to and from the UK marks a totally new phase in the developing world air transport sector,” said Gourgeon. “Thanks to the new open skies agreement, our ambition in the years to come is to rank among the leading world players on this market. Along with KLM, Delta and our other SkyTeam partners, we are determined to offer passengers the greatest choice of routes and schedules between Europe and the rest of the world. The ability to offer passengers access to an enlarged network out of London, the leading European market, is a key phase in this strategy.”

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With new flights between Heathrow and Atlanta as well as Heathrow and New York-JFK, Delta is strengthening its position as the largest carrier across the Atlantic.

“We are very pleased to be able to serve London’s Heathrow Airport in addition to Gatwick,” said Hauenstein. “This is the world’s top business destination and, as a global player, Delta will now be able to offer two options for travelers into this city. We are excited not only by the opportunity to serve this destination but also for the increased cooperation between Delta and Air France, which is being demonstrated today. Our cooperation is yielding tangible and positive benefits for our airlines, our passengers and our employees.”

Within the framework of the Open Skies agreement, and in addition to our three new long-haul services to and from Heathrow, Delta will operate seven services out of Gatwick, Manchester and Edinburgh to U.S. gateways on a codeshare basis with Air France. Tickets for the four flights operated by Delta between Ireland and the U.S. are also sold by our French partner. Both carriers are cooperating in the best possible conditions and our joint venture paves the way for some particularly interesting opportunities.

Customers travelling on the new services from London-Heathrow will be able to benefit from onward connections to more than 150 business and leisure destinations throughout the United States, the Caribbean, Central and South America. In addition these opportunities will extend to freight forwarders and cargo shippers handling valuable cargo goods.

The market between the UK and Ireland and North America offers some of the highest growth potential. In terms of size, this market accounts for nearly half of all transatlantic traffic in Europe, with 8 out of the 12 busiest routes between Europe and the US serving London including the Los Angeles-London and Heathrow-JFK service. The London-Los Angeles route is similar in market size to the Paris-New York route.
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