Air France VP On Distribution Topics

Air France-KLM U.S. vice president and general manager Christine Ourmières recently updated us on corporate contracting among SkyTeam's joint venture partners (including Delta). I also asked her about a few distribution topics. Joint alliance-GDS negotiations? Don't hold your breath. Revised agency compensation programs for Delta's TMC clients? There were some questions at first, but now everything is cool, according to Ourmières. [more]

Jonas: Is there any appetite or opportunity to align distribution strategies, including leveraging volume to jointly negotiate with global distribution systems?

Ourmières: Excellent question. Today it would be difficult. We discuss all subjects because we are allowed to do so, except for some contracts that have confidentiality. But we are studying any opportunity that is possible. But with some suppliers, it is more easy than with others. On purchasing, we'll see more opportunities in the future, but it is a learning experience. With some suppliers it will take much longer.

Jonas: Like the GDSs?

Ourmières: (laughter) That's you saying it, not me.

[Air France-KLM in April 2009 wrapped up the last of its current long-term GDS agreements when it announced a full content deal with Travelport. We also know that Delta's current deals with Sabre and Travelport run through 2013.]

Jonas: Last year, we reported on how Delta was revising travel agency compensation programs to include Air France, KLM and Northwest, and that affected how geographic targets were set. From your perspective, how have travel agency relationships changed as a result of the JV?

Ourmières: In all the meetings we have had with them, it has been very positive. It is always the same question. They want to have a real partnership and feel that the partnerships they have are balanced. We are listening and have constant contact. The feedback has been that they were nicely surprised by how we managed the change and the contractual process. We were the first joint venture to have such an integrated process for them, so there were questions at the beginning. But now, after one year, it was quite successful and we are moving on. That doesn't mean that we are not ready to adapt and change when we have to change. So it's about constant discussion, and it has been very positive. If you ask them, I hope they'll say the same! It's not always just the contract the itself, but the way it is managed. We have them managed by a team during a busy period, which needed change management for new tools, new processes, new products and a new organization. In one year, I have been so impressed by everything that has been managed by the team.