Window on Canada


Karan Deswal makes history in the airline industry



After the recent merger of Air France and KLM – the first time that a European national airline has merged with another European flag carrier – on June 1, Toronto became the first station in the world to be run with a joint Air France (AF) – KLM (KL) management team.


With Toronto having one of the world’s most diverse and multicultural populations, it is no surprise that the merged airline decided to appoint Karan Deswal, an Indian-origin Canadian, to head its Toronto Airport Operations, as General Manager.


This is the first for a South Asian-origin person in Air France’s history in Europe and North America.


Prior to the merger and establishment of a joint management team, Karan Deswal was KLM’s Regional Service Manager for Canada and the Northern United States (Detroit, Chicago, and Minneapolis).


Having been associated for over 25 years with KLM,  a company that knows how to keep pace with the changing times of today, Karan takes great pride in delivering top level customer service for all internal and external customers.


Toronto has been rated the best station in North America on several occasions under KLM’s strict quality control inspections. The credit goes to Karan, who has been at the helm since 1993.


Karan is convinced and compliments his dedicated team of multicultural mix for the honour: “Irrespective of their ethnic background, all our passengers feel at home because of the ethnic diversity of our staff.  For example, if an elderly person who speaks only a certain language is in need of assistance, there is always someone on staff who will be able to help out.”  


Karan himself hails from New Delhi. He started out as a pilot, but there were few cockpit jobs available in India, so he joined Air France as an Operations Officer in 1972.  Having gained experience in customer service, cargo and flight operations, he then joined KLM in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) as a Flight Operations Officer in 1977. 

After 9 years of extensive experience in the Arabian Gulf, Karan requested and obtained a transfer to Toronto, Canada in 1986 for family reasons. 


Further experience across Canada lead to his appointment as a Station Manager for Toronto in 1993.  Due to the KLM and Northwest integration in North America in 1998,

Karan took on the position of Toronto Customer Service Manager - KLM.  In

July 2001, he was appointed KLM’s Regional Service Manager for Canada and the Northern United States.  


Karan talked of his great plans for 2004. “We have an excellent KLM Business Class lounge in Toronto which we have taken great initiative in marketing. Currently, various other airlines are using the lounge.  I've submitted a business plan for the further expansion of the lounge, allowing us to exploit its potential to generate even more profitability.  Besides this, we want to continue to provide excellent customer service to all our passengers."       


During an interview for Volkenridder, Karan, the “cosmopolitan globetrotter” was asked whether he feels “a touch of Dutch?”


“Definitely. I feel a special connection with Holland.  Over the last 25 years or so, my family and I have travelled to Holland on numerous occasions.  In addition, I’m in regular contact with the Dutch Consulate, the Netherlands Board of Tourism, and the Dutch community in general in Toronto.  I feel proud representing KLM amongst this community.”


With AF-KL merger, Karan is excited about rekindling his ties with Air France after almost 25 years. “It's a strange feeling, but it's exciting to come full circle.  Although there is a great deal that is unknown at this time, I’m hopeful that KLM’s connection with Air France will be positive for everyone involved,” he said.


Very soon, Karan is bound to feel a touch of French too!


Copyright © Globalom Media 2004
Publisher and Managing Editor: Suresh Jaura
Hosted and webdesigned by Globalom Media
A Globalom Media Publication