Air France: Overhaul Not Just About Cuts

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Although much of the focus at Air France has been on restructuring the business to return to profitability, airline management has tried to make the case it also wants to upgrade its long-haul service offering as part of the remake to attract premium passengers.

This week, the airline has provided some insight into what is in store, announcing its plan to begin a trial next year to bring WiFi connectivity to long-haul passengers. Several years ago the company already experimented with on-board telephone connectivity, but fleet-wide implementation did not take place.

The new effort will begin in February, centered on upgrading two Boeing 777-300ERs -- one from Air France and  the other from sister-airline KLM. The airline group is working with Panasonic on the in-flight connectivity effort, that will run several months.

Passengers should be able to watch television, as well as send text messages and communicate by email with the service, the airline says. The connection will rely on in-flight WiFi coverage to a persons comptuer or other WiFi-capable digital device.

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