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French Domestic Aviation

Tue May 25, 2004 7:30 am

I just have one 'simple' question, why are there very few French airlines operating domestic routes. AF seem to be dominating the market with high prices (compared to similar airfares in the UK and Germany). Why haven't LCCs carriers boomed in France like in other places?

Any feedback would be appreciated

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RE: French Domestic Aviation

Tue May 25, 2004 7:55 am

AF is almost alone on the French domestic market since the few remaining regional carriers (regional and britair) have been franchised by AF and are mainly used as feeders for AF hubs in LYS, ORY and CDG.
CCM (Compagnie Corse Mediterranee) and Airlinair operate on niche markets. Air Littoral used to connect south of France to Europe but they went to bankruptcy in January.

Actually AF biggest competitor isn't a LCC (except maybe on ORY-NIZ) but the bullet train (TGV) with great fares and a fast connection to major cities.

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RE: French Domestic Aviation

Tue May 25, 2004 8:13 am

Cedric hits it spot on. The TGV is AF's biggest competitor. Several family members of mine live in Paris but have business in Marseille. Their logic is simple: why drive 50 minutes around Paris to get to CDG just to sit there an hour and a half for a flight that lasts about the same time just to get to an airport that is not exactly in the center of Marseille? The TGV takes you from town centre to town centre in 3 hours, no probs. (except for bomb threats now  Yeah sure)


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RE: French Domestic Aviation

Tue May 25, 2004 8:51 am

And they say that subsidized transportation won't interfere with private enterprise.....
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RE: French Domestic Aviation

Tue May 25, 2004 9:42 am

Let's face it, for the distances within France, and for many popular destinations, the train is far superior then flying unless your really addicted to flying. I used the TGV in 1997 r/t between Paris and Lyon - 300 miles in about 2 hours each way. There are few securty delays, can get on a train only minutes before it leaves, (although maybe changed since the Madrid train bombings in April) moves at an average of 150 mph (250+kph), much more leg room, able to move/walk around, larger toilet facilities, you can bring your own food/beverages, no real limits on 'carry on' bags, no waiting for bags at a baggage claim, you can choose your seat, an extrodinary ride, a reasonable fare structure (with ranges of peak/off peak fares depending on day, time, etc), see scenery close up.
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RE: French Domestic Aviation

Tue May 25, 2004 10:16 am

The answer is simple and shared by others: TVG (Train de Grande Vitesse) in English it means "High Speed Train." The French pride themselves on having the best train system anywhere in the world. The TGV uses "jet engines" and can take you from one of end the country to the other in a relatively decent time. Every major airport in France is linked one way or another by the TGV; even other major European cities such as Brussels AS FAR AS I KNOW! Thus, the need for more airlines on a domestic scale is not urgent for the French at this point. Although I'm sure soon we're gonna see a few LCC on the French domestic market...
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RE: French Domestic Aviation

Tue May 25, 2004 11:09 am

Got that right.

Except the TGV has no jet engine. The prototype had a gas turbine. All the railroads weren't electrified then. All the production TGVs are powered by several (and quite complex) electric motors.

But I, for one, would like to see a few LCC's operate in France! I'll be 25 in a couple of months, and past that, full fare is all there is for me on AF. That means an eye and a leg, even (especially!) on domestic routes...

I mean TGV is great, but it doesn't get you everywhere in France, and the regular train service might be very good, but it still means 7 to 8 hours, often with a few train changes, to get you to the southwest of France from Paris, for instance...
I'll do my own airline. With Blackjack. And hookers. In fact, forget the airline.
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RE: French Domestic Aviation

Mon May 31, 2004 2:29 pm

I remember getting a trip to the cockpit of the TGV the first year it was out because my mother was a travel agent and had connections with SNCF. I have ridden it many times over the years, and it is very convenient as long as you are going someplace the train is going. If not, you have to rent a car and drive. Something we are all forgetting is that passenger trains everywhere are heavily subsidized, and would not be able to pay for upkeep and repair, much less new trackage if the government did not support it. The freights can pay their way, but pax trains are a huge boondoggle, look at BritRail. Unions and spoiled passengers (spoiled by low fares and metros) keep the things popular and funded. Regional airlines in France have to compete with all this, combined with the fact that France is only slightly larger than Texas and has over 2000 years of bureaucratic inertia propelling lethargy forward at a slow yet inexorable pace.
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RE: French Domestic Aviation

Mon May 31, 2004 7:19 pm

Perhaps easyJet will be the next carrier to try and operate a comprehenvie low cost domestic operation in France, they already operate a handful of domestic services and I'm sure would be keen to expand further and give AF a run for its money, particularly if they could obtain more slots from ORY and CDG.
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RE: French Domestic Aviation

Mon May 31, 2004 7:36 pm

Let's not forget TwinJet (http://www.twinjet.net). They are operating several domestic routes with Beech1900 and are reporting profits.

Seems like they are building up something.


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