Air Transport World

Blanc checks losses.(Christian Blanc, CEO of Groupe Air France)

Admittedly still sick but no longer terminal after 15 months if cost cutting and restructuring, Air France is undergoing a wrenching internal upheaval. Struggling to regain equlibrium under the charismatic leadership of Christian Blanc, 53, the loss-plagued carrier is reshaping itself gradually to compete in a brave new world of normal market disciplines

"We still have a distance to go but we're on track and making progress. We are following the example of Lufthansa's, recovery and will do it even better," the confident, cigar-smoking CEO and chairman of Groupe Air France told ATW with a smile, referring to a friendly rivalry with LH Chairman Jurgen Weber.

Blanc said he agreed to take the helm of Air France in 1993 only on condition that the government move the airline firmly toward privatization in 1997, after the 3-year revitalization program is concluded.

Behind the scenes, according to an AF official, Stephen Wolf, former chairman of United Airlines, is wielding influence as a special adviser to Blanc.

In March, in a move to regain competitive edge, the carrier launched a series of branded products on European routes. …

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