Air France plans to restructure short-haul operations

It would appear that Air France is following in the footsteps of its rival Lufthansa.

Next month, according to Les Echos, Air France will announce a restructuring of its short- and medium-haul network division.

What it means is that, starting in 2015, Air France will hive off non-core routes to low-cost subsidiaries Hop! and Transavia.

Passengers will have to get used to a different type of product, one which may lead to lower levels of service. Some routes may be dropped altogether.

A similar development is now seen in Germany where Lufthansa is transferring all non-hub shortish flights (in other words, those flights not serving either Frankfurt or Munich) to low-cost subsidiaries Germanwings and Eurowings.

Most if not all Europe’s big airlines lose money from their shorter flights. They are prepared to tolerate any losses on flights feeding passengers to their hub airports. It is their non-hub operations where the savings must be made.

In the case of France, it is Paris CDG which will continue to see core Air France services. Those flights using Paris Orly and France’s regional airports would be transferred.

Of course this process is not new to Air France in the UK. Many regional routes, including those from London City, are already contracted out to smaller carriers who can operate them more economically.

Many people are not aware that, in the case of the UK, Air France itself flies only between Paris CDG, London Heathrow and Manchester.

But Air France will need agreement from its unions before any changes can be implemented. And, as expected, the unions are not happy.

The pilots’ union has already called for a strike next month, on a date yet to be announced.

Alex McWhirter

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  • Similarly, as part of the KLM re-structuring, within 5 years, their whole European Network will be run under the KLM City-Hopper Brand.

  • Out of 6 daily flights between Birmingham and CDG, three are flown by Air France mainline and three are sub-contracted to Flybe.

  • Air France routes UK to CDG, please note that Air France also operates some flights to/from Birmingham itself, usually with A318/319 aircraft. Flybe operate the BHX flights which AF do not operate usually with Embraer 190. When booking flights care needs to be taken to ensure that you select the AF operated flights, especially with C tickets because the Flybe aircraft are single class.

  • Air France also flies direct from CDG to BHX on A318/19’s usually, at least twice a day. As a recent and frequent user I can assure you it s definitely Air France. They also codeshare Flybe into CDG. Its normally cheaper to buy the ticket via Flybe and fly the AF flight somewhat oddly. Conversely if you buy the Flybe ticket via air France you get food, but not if you buy the AF ticket via Flybe.

  • Thank you for all your comments. You are quite correct in that both AF and Flybe share the Pais-Birmingham service. But in fact it’s a recent development and is probably connected with AF’s disposal of CityJet.

    According to a 2005 news item posted by Birmingham airport, CityJet took over the route from March 2005.

    I suspect AF will only operate short-term into Birmingham until an arrangement can be made with one of its lower cost subsidiaries.

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