is not a solution.
Here are some reasons why:
1) It doesn't solve the problem! AF
does not have an issue of economies of scale but of an under-productive labour force. Pihero has very well set out what employment contracts look like for AF
flying staff. But pilots would not earn less or fly more if ORY
2) Whilst economies of scale are a good thing, CDG
is already a very very very large scale operation for AF
. Adding the ORY
operations will not yield many more economies of scale and may possibly just add more complexity.
3) Better connectivity? CDG
is already the hub with the best connections in Europe, or among the best. The ORY
operations exist not because there is no space for them at CDG
, but because the Paris O&D market is so large that it justifies a standalone operation. And although transfering at CDG
has been an absolutely terrible experience in the past with a non-helpful layout of the airport and pi$$-poor organization by AF
and ADP staff things have improved a lot in the past 2-3 years. Almost all flights are now concentrated in Terminals 2F and 2E, most flights board from jetbridges, the two terminals are connected, Schengen passengers no longer need to go through security, there are fast lanes everywhere for AF
and Skyteam priority pax, AF
information management and travel management has become much better (making use of digital platforms that customers use), many people can use biometric immigration gates, etc. Hence "setting up CDG
as a powerful transit hub", well, that is not a new idea and is in large parts already implemented.
is an attractive value proposition in its own right. Many people living in Paris prefer flying from ORY
because it is closer (albeit the difference may not be that huge depending on where one is in the Paris area) and easier to navigate. It is laid out and works like a P2P airport. If AF
moves out of ORY
other airlines will take the slots and transport the passengers that AF
used to transport. In the end, AF
will have lost passengers.
5) Connecting the two airports by a fast rail link is close to impossible. Already now neither CDG
have a proper rail link. Both are linked to the Paris RER express train system, but those RER trains are trashcans on wheels. The connections are slow, trains are dirty and filthy, run down, people are packed in there because the trains do not go from downtown to the airports nonstop but have many intermediate stops in the slum parts of the Paris suburbs (with the resulting problems for passenger security and comfort), there isn't sufficient space for luggage, etc. It's not a fast-and-clean-and-neat solution like the Heathrow Express or the OSL
flight train or Narita Express but more akin to traveling on the back of a lorry over the Khyber Pass. None of the projects for building a proper CDG
Express has ever been realised and the one currently envisaged will not transport any passengers before 2025. So dreaming of a fast rail link between ORY
to virtually merge the two will remain precisely that, a dream. And the TGV at CDG
is a mild joke. The "rail-air" integration happens in terms of real estate by having the train station in the middle of the airport, but with trains only every couple of hours to places like Lille, Brussels, Lyon, Strasbourg, Rennes, Nantes, etc. passengers still may have to wait for very very long before catching their connecting train or will opto to go to downtown Paris to take a TGV from there.
is in a tough place. Its strategy was partly mis-guided for years, and (just like is the case for the entire country) painful transformations did not happen or started too late. Pierre-Henri Gourgeon's strategy of saving his way out of a challenging sitution did not work, because under-investing into the product made it complete rubbish and the company lost all pricing power, eroding the top line even more that cost savings could compensate for. The new CEO understands that the core AF
brand cannot be turned into an LCC, but instead he invests into making the core AF
product (in the air and on the ground) more attractive and shaves off cost where they are less felt by passengers; he separates regional flying (but will need to do much more to yield real gains, so far there are still three separate companies with separate AOCs and separate headquarters and separate fleets); and separates true LCC flying.
I have doubts whether positioning Transavia as a pan-European LCC will really work (why should it? Does Europe need another LCC?), but if a lower cost branch can already take away some of the cost pressure from the existing activities that's a good thing.
I really hope that the AF
management will not yield, just like the politicians did not yield to the striking rail workers in June. In the meantime, I have booked all my flights this week with other airlines (and *not* LH
, as they go on strike as well tomorrow!)