1. Is 2014 the year when we ‘forget’ about the economic crisis and start a new growth cycle? Give us your personal opinion about the evolution of the Romanian economy in 2014 and beyond.
In my opinion, 2014 is still a leverage year, until the economy makes a full comeback. The best use of the economic downturn cycle is reflected in the current business behavior, e.g. a new and more intense focus on innovation, making strategic investments and repositioning the business. The good news about Romania is coming from the foreign business analysts, as all of them are saying that Romania appears to be the most favorable place to invest in the upcoming period of time. Of course, there is a long way ahead before the results will be reflected in significant GDP growth and improved GNP per inhabitant.
2. What will the next cycle of growth look like compared to the previous one? What has changed? What are the lessons we should not forget, in order not to repeat the mistakes of the past? How will the ‘new normal’ look for the Romanian economy?
It is in the nature of business to learn from past mistakes and adapt (some quicker, some slower) to the new environment. The economic downturn period was quite brutal and the changes that happened were not just a necessity, but also a matter of keeping the business alive. The airline industry is one of the many examples of the ability to change and adapt in order to cope with the new challenges.
It is relevant, in this respect, how many airlines have adapted their air travel product for the corporate travel. Since the Business Class seats were used only in particular conditions, the airlines have introduced an intermediary class between Economy and Business to offer their corporate passengers the possibility to travel in comfort and arrive ready-to-work
at the destination.
3. Does Romania still have a future potential to attract FDI or do we have to ‘manage’ with internal resources?
Romania has, without a doubt, a great potential to become a secure place for investments. A coherent long term strategy (including the act of political governance), will certainly contribute to positioning Romania next to, or even ahead of, other attractive countries in the region, such as Hungary and Poland. Also, there is an urgent need for a collective effort in taking immediate actions and invest in improving Romania’s image abroad.
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4. Which are the most important changes you have made in your business over the past years to help you grow in the future?
Regarding the changes and the investments we have made, the past 4 years have been really busy. Firstly, together with Aeroports de Paris, we managed to consolidate one of our main hubs – Paris Charles de Gaulle. In the past 3 years, we have made investments of EUR 580mn in the infrastructure and accessibility of the airport and in 2013, a new departures satellite – S4, dedicated to long-haul flights, was inaugurated in the 2E terminal of the airport. Furthermore, starting with 2012, Air France has conducted a full investment program called Best & Beyond, whose end purpose is to reposition the company into the super segments of commercial aviation. These investments targeted the change of all 4 travelling classes of Air France: Economy, Premium Economy, Business Class and La Premiere. The improvements regard not only the comfort of our passengers, but also their entertainment during the flight. These investments have culminated with a new image campaign launched in early May.
5. How do you see the priorities and opportunities for your business in 2014 and beyond?
Air France KLM is committed to fully respond to the needs of our corporate clients, both locally and internationally. We invested in the development of a fidelity program specially designed for corporate clients, Blue Biz, and a highly educated local team motivated to fully support companies seeking for the best flying option.