Air Transport World

Liberte, egalite, fratenite? Europe's low-cost carriers want more access to the French market.(Low-Cost Carriers)(Industry Overview)

France is Europe's largest tourist destination, with 75.5 million visitors annually including some 15.5 million Germans, 12.7 million Britons and 12 million Dutch flocking to the country. Per capita GDP is above the European average, and with 61 million inhabitants it has the largest population in Western Europe after Germany. Yet air travelers in France have fewer opportunities to take advantage of low-cost airlines than those in almost any other country in Europe.

Based on OAG data for the week of June 14, LCCs accounted for only 5% of domestic scheduled available seats in France compared to 31% in the UK, 23% in Germany and 15% in Italy. LCCs offered 20% of the seat capacity on intra-EU routes to/from France compared to 35% to/from the UK, 14% to/from Germany and 25% to/from Italy. Based on flight frequencies, the no-frills sector provided 3% of all scheduled flights in France compared to 19% in the UK, 18% in Germany and 11% in Italy. And LCCs operated 13% of scheduled intra-European flights to/from France against 31% to/from the UK, 11% to/from Germany and 20% to/from Italy.

Furthermore, according to research by Arthur D. Little Paris, as of Dec. 31, 2003, no LCCs were indigenous to France while UK/Ireland had nine, Germany six, Scandinavia and Italy three each and Belgium and the Netherlands one apiece.

This lack of penetration is not for want of trying, however. London Luton-based easyJet is quite vocal about its inability to gain more than a toehold in France and more specifically access to the Paris airports of Roissy Charles de Gaulle and Orly. Having announced plans to establish a base at Orly in 2002, it currently has just four aircraft based there and three at CDG, from whence it operates to eight and six destinations respectively. This compares with a selection of 13 routes using six aircraft from Berlin Schoenefeld, a base easyJet only launched at the end of April. "We want to know why it took only two months in Germany to achieve our current level in France after three years of operations," says easyJet Communications Manager Toby Nichols. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.