Air France plans to restructure short-haul operations

20 Aug 2014 by Alex McWhirter

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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