Mar 9, 2015

Air France to suspend Narita cargo flights service from April


Air France B777F aircraft

Air France (AFR) will suspend their currently operating weekly cargo flights service, which flies from Narita → Incheon → Paris, as from April 1. It was carried out as a part of the cargo flight business restructuring plan known as "Perform 2020" that the AFR/KLM airline group announced in September 2014 as a 2015-20 medium-term management plan. Other than Narita, they will also stop their Singapore → Bangkok → Dubai → Amsterdam line (this currently operates bi-weekly). Their Hong Kong departure flight which flies from Hong Kong → Chennai → Mumbai → Amsterdam line (five flights per week) is being changed to Hong Kong → Amsterdam (four flights per week). The plan was announced by the cargo department on the March 3.  They are not planning to change the AFR/KLM passenger flight plans in summer, including plans regarding their combination passenger/cargo flights. As for Japan routes, the Narita → Paris, Haneda → Paris, and Kansai → Paris lines of AFR and the Narita → Amsterdam, Kansai → Amsterdam, and Fukuoka → Amsterdam lines of KLM will continue operations as normal(as of March 3).

Through the "Perform 2020" plan, they are pushing forward with cargo business reconstruction; they are hoping to balance the income and expenses of their cargo delivery business in 2017. They are planning to retire nine aircraft among the cargo aircraft that they own, and establish a new system with five cargo aircraft by the end of 2016. In accordance with this process, they are planning to reduce the number of cargo flight routes; thus they are reviewing a plan to restructure Asian cargo flight routes at this time.

In a detailed cargo aircraft ownership plan announced in September last year, three aircraft based in Amsterdam are to be scrapped by the end of 2016 and five MD11F type aircraft are to be scrapped in 2015-2016. At the end of 2016, nine out of the total of 14 cargo aircraft owned by the AFR/KLM since 2013 will be scrapped in order to establish a 5-craft system. They will continue services with the following five aircraft: the two AFR B777F aircraft as Paris based cargo planes and the three KLM B747ERF aircraft as Amsterdam based cargo planes.

Although the AFR has been taking measures such as interim cancellations or reducing of the number of flights to meet world affairs and cargo situations, they have continued cargo flight operations in Narita in the last few years. After the Lehman shock, they temporarily canceled Narita flights in the summer of 2009; however, the operation of two flights per week resumed in September 2010. Then, due to a decline in cargo demand from Japan to Europe coupled with a substantial reduction in freight fees, they changed to a once a week flight in 2013 and have been running that flight every Saturday up until recently, with main deck space still being provided.

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