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Air France Says Japan Traffic Has Declined 20% After Earthquake

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May 4 (Bloomberg) -- Air France-KLM Group’s Japan traffic has fallen by about a fifth following the country’s March 11 earthquake, the airline’s French sales director said today.

“Japan traffic has declined by something to the order of 20 percent,” Christian Boireau said in an interview in Paris.

Europe’s biggest airline is focused on rebuilding traffic on Asian and African routes after cutting capacity during the 2008-2009 economic crisis, Boireau said. The Paris-based company indefinitely postponed plans to begin flights to Tripoli on March 29 and remains “cautious about the Middle East.”

The carrier has removed one of its five Airbus A380 superjumbos from Tokyo routes until September in response to the traffic decline. Air France is preparing to take delivery of a sixth superjumbo and introduce the 538-seater on San Francisco flights for the summer season starting June 6, until the plane returns to Tokyo in September, spokesman Nicolas Petteau said.

At a Paris news conference today, the airline unveiled mobile-phone applications and services allowing passengers to manage reservations and receive real-time updates on flight schedules by text message and e-mail. Air France is scheduled to publish earnings May 19 for its fiscal year ended March 31.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Laurence Frost in Paris at lfrost4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net

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