(Reuters) - Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) has signed a code share deal with Singapore Airlines (SIAL.SI) to boost its network to Asia, following a similar move by rival Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) with Cathay Pacific (0293.HK) 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 statement.
Reporting by Victoria Bryan in Berlin; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta