April 13 (Reuters) - Air France-KLM has signed a
code share deal with Singapore Airlines to boost its
network to Asia, following a similar move by rival Lufthansa
with Cathay Pacific as European airlines
battle back against rival Gulf carriers.
Both Air France and Lufthansa have been vocal critics of the
Gulf airlines, saying their expansion has led them to terminate
services to destinations in the Middle East, Asia and in
particular India over recent years.
But with carriers such as Emirates and Etihad suffering from
signs of weaker demand caused partly by currency fluctuations,
European carriers are fighting back.
Air France said on Thursday that it would add its AF code to
Singapore Airlines flights from Singapore to Melbourne and
Sydney, and on three routes to Malaysia and Thailand operated by
regional subsidiary Silkair.
In exchange, Singapore Airlines will add its SQ code to 10
Air France flights from Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport.
The Air France-Singapore Airlines agreement is also similar
to that signed by Lufthansa last month in that it sees airlines
from rival alliances working together. Air France
is in the Skyteam alliance, while Singapore is in Star Alliance.
"This kind of partnership is part of our aim to expand our
market position and increase our range of destinations for our
customers all around the world," said Patrick Roux, Senior
Vice-President Alliances at Air France-KLM, in a statement.
The two carriers will also consider expanding the code share
to other airlines within their groups, Air France-KLM said in a
(Reporting by Victoria Bryan in Berlin; Editing by Sudip