The introduction of direct flights on the Paris-Accra route is the latest step by Air France in its long term moves to increase its services in Africa, Mr. Jean-Marc Janaillac, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Air France KLM has said.
The launch, he said would strengthen the partnership between France and Ghana, reinforce business relations and improve tourism.
Air France has began direct flights from Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris to the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, as part of its efforts to increase services between Europe and Africa.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra to commemorate the start of the airline flights to Ghana Mr Janaillac said the airline already had an extensive presence in Africa; with flights to 51 destinations in Africa and more frequencies through its partnership with Kenya Airways.
Air France would operate three flights a week between Paris Charles De Gaulle and Kotoka international airport, Accra, using an Airbus A330 with a capacity of 208 seats until March 2017 and a Boeing 777-200 aircraft, with 312 seats after March; both in three-class configurations.
The A330 has 40 Business class, 21 Premium Economy and 147 Economy class seats, while the Boeing 777-200 will have 28 in Business class, 24 in Premium Economy and 260 in Economy.
“This represents a 50 per cent capacity growth for the next summer season and this shows how we are confident of the success of this new route,” he stated, adding that cargo was also a key component of its business,” he said.
Mr. Janaillac said there was great business potential in Ghana and connecting Accra to Paris was Air France’s way of supporting Ghana’s economic development, by facilitating business travel French businesses to increase their presence and activities, and exchange with their Ghanaian counterparts.
Mr Dick van Nieuwenhuyzen, Air France-KLM Country Manager for Ghana, said the Air France-KLM group now offered 10 flights between Ghana and Europe; seven to Amsterdam and three to Paris, with extra seats, which was good for the market in Ghana.
He said the government could support the airline and others in the sector by ensuring competitive fares, and charges from handling agencies as well as the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority.
Mr. François Pujolas, French Ambassador to Ghana, said the opening of the new route symbolised growing interest for Ghana in France and the growing partnership between Ghana and France.
He noted that the focus of the partnership between the two countries was to help consolidate regional integration in West Africa, as they were trying to do in Europe.
This, he said, was because both Ghana and France would be in a better position to address regional problems such as climate change, security and terrorism, if they were united.
“France is committed to support any project in that direction. That will be the top priority for us and it has many implications, in the fields of security, the economy and business opportunities, and also in the field of culture,” he noted.
He said France wanted to develop and diversify its trade with Ghana, which stood at one billion Euros annually and was concentrated in the pharmaceutical, oil and gas and agricultural products.