Air France bolsters regional services

Air France bolsters regional services

AIRFrance is targeting new UK services from up to five new regional airports next year.

Plans are being studied to fly to Paris from Belfast, Bristol, Leeds/Bradford, East Midlands and Aberdeen.

Flights from the airports would start at the end of next March in time for the summer 2000 season. Air France plans to franchise out the routes to its two UK partners Jersey European Airways and Gill Airways.

Commercial director UK and Ireland Thierry de Bailleul said the airline would use carriers to ensure passengers received a British-style service.

He said the use of the two UK carriers has given Air France otherwise unobtainable additional seats. "We have had 34% extra capacity out of the UK with the franchise carriers over the last year," said de Bailleul.

JEA and Gill currently fly on behalf of the airline to Paris from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham, Newcastle, Teesside and Humberside. JEA also serves Toulouse and Lyons from Heathrow.

De Bailleul said Air France was considering just one service upgrade for the winter. London City-Paris flights, operated on leased CityJet aircraft, are expected to rise to six a day from four.

De Bailleul said the recent switching of UK and Ireland flights to a new dedicated Paris Charles de Gaulle terminal was helping the airline reach a goal of a 2hr connecting time. He said 50% of UK passengers connect in Paris to a final destination. Three-quarters are long-haul customers.

n The next phase of Air France's ongoing partial privatisation will leave the French government with 53% of the airline. This is expected to be completed next year. Global partner Delta Air Lines could take a minority share.

The sell-off the carrier started earlier this year. The initial public offering left the government with 63.5%, employees with 11.75% and the private sector with 24.75%.


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