Junior transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said news source RTL: “It is obviously not conceivable that we would allow the operators of any kind – especially low-cost operators to get involved. So we’re going to issue a decree that, for environmental reasons, compatible with European law, so that there is no risk of competition.”
The government has said that it will offer Air France a loan of 7 billion euros, to the condition that it reduced its domestic services for environmental reasons.
The CEO of Air France-KLM, Benjamin Smith, has already committed to reduce the airline’s French domestic routes by 40% by 2021.
Air vs. train routes
But while the rules appear strict, in practice, they are unlikely to make much of a difference to air travel in France.
Some companies operate flights along routes for which a TGV train journey of less than two and a half hours there, including Air France and its short-haul subsidiary Hop!.
If and when such a high-speed TGV routes open, the equivalent air route generally stops soon after, as people choose to take the train of course, depending on journal The Figaro.
EasyJet is the main low-cost competitor to Air France in the country, with 37 domestic routes.
However, his two most used routes – Paris-Toulouse and Paris-Nice – take more than four hours and about six hours, respectively, by train. This means that they do not fall within the framework of the two-and-a-half-hour limit.
Another great low-cost airline, Ryanair, has only two domestic routes in France, linking the “Paris” of the airport of Beauvais, Béziers (Hérault, Occitania) and Figari in Corsica.
The Spanish low-cost airline, Volotea, which also operates flights from Beauvais, is ready to extend its domestic services to the interior of France, but most people will not be affected by the government limits.
The Services include the routes between Nantes and Corsica, as well as in Strasbourg, Perpignan, Toulouse, Montpellier and Nice, most of which are more than two and a half hours by train.
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