Why Do Airlines Struggle with Stating Simple Facts?
In late March, I received this email from Flying Blue, the air miles programme of Air France.
Dear Mr MIYAMOTO,
As a valued Flying Blue member using our London City network, operated by CityJet, we would like to take this opportunity to inform you of some changes in the earning and spending possibilities on CityJet flights.
Due to the launch of CityJet’s independent airline code WX on the 30th March, flights that are marketed as WX will no longer be eligible for earning and spending Flying Blue Miles from this date onwards. However, we are pleased to inform you that you will still be able to earn Flying Blue Miles on AIR FRANCE and KLM marketed flights on these CityJet routes.
For the best fares and other benefits and features, please visit cityjet.com
Air France / KLM acquired VLM, an independent Belgian airline, with whom I flew regularly between Antwerp and London City. VLM was, compared to most passenger airlines, a wildly profitable one because they basically had a captive audience of business travellers and a monopoly of the route, operating a fleet of Fokker 50s (a darling name, don’t you think?), propeller birds that have a significantly lower cost of maintenance than jet birds.
VLM were first acquired by CityJet, a company that operated certain flights for AF. CityJet then got acquired by AF shortly thereafter, making VLM a unit of AF. Last year, AF, not having made any money in a long time, decided to dispose of CityJet in a sale to a private, German-based company and get some cash. The transaction completed earlier this year.
Which is why CityJet got a new airline code.
However, the reason why CityJet flights are no longer part of the AF frequent flyer programme is NOT because CityJet got a new code; it’s because CityJet are no longer part of the AF group.
In other words, it’s a simple, harmless fact that does not require a PR spin or clever wordsmithing. They could have just said that CityJet are now independent and that miles can be earned only on codeshared flights marketed by AF/KLM. But, it was a little too difficult for AF.
If you knew about the disposal, then you probably dismissed it as just another incompetent communiqué from a bleeder of an airline still struggling to come to terms with the private sector. If you didn’t know about the split, then you probably thought what a silly excuse to tighten the Flying Blue membership benefits.
I actually like flying with AF, as well as KLM, but I could live without getting such unnecessary rubbish from them.