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EasyJet order: Rethinking the French short-haul air transport

Jean-Louis Baroux’s Chronicle


Following the airplane order by Easyjet to Airbus, Frédéric Cuvillier, Minister of Transport received Carolyn McCall, CEO of the orange-colored company. This "celebration" was not to the liking of all French professionals. Jean-Louis Baroux gives us an inside look on this controversy.



Carolyn McCall, easyJet 's CEO, surrounded by Fabrice Brégnier the President of Airbus and Frédéric Cuvillier, the Minister of Transportation. Photo LAC
Carolyn McCall, easyJet 's CEO, surrounded by Fabrice Brégnier the President of Airbus and Frédéric Cuvillier, the Minister of Transportation. Photo LAC
This is a very interesting debate.

EasyJet confirms its order for more than 120 Airbus 320 and its CEO Carolyn McCall is welcomed by the Minister of Transportation.

Nothing out of the ordinary here?

After all this is not the first time that French authorities are celebrating a major contract, and this is undoubtedly one of them.

Let’s recall that our President François Hollande attended, in person, the signing of a landmark order of the Indonesian carrier Lion Air.

Without being assured however that this order will be finalized.

So why this outcry from French professionals not towards their colleague and competitor, EasyJet, but towards public authorities?

FNAM is speaking out

I see three reasons.

First, and this is the essential point, many of these devices will be used on French territory and they will further weaken our national carriers.

This will not certainly equal the business of Air France branches such as Hop for instance, no more than the national network.

This is yet another bullet to kill the operations of our national company on mainland territory.

This is probably what explains the FNAM speaking out through its president Alain Battisti whose company Chalair is not affected, but who must stand up for his constituents.

Then there is the reality that operating regular flights according to French social rules against a competition that is not subjected to the same constraints leads to an economic impossibility.

The only answer is to host abroad, Portugal, Ireland, or Greece, the headquarters of our French companies to take advantage of the equal playing field, making the fight a fair one.

Alain Battisti does not hesitate to denounce this social and fiscal disparity, without being contradicted otherwise.

Only and this is the third reason, the unions do not want to hear about any relocation and public authorities are incapable of imposing French rules to foreign carriers.

This happens even although occasionally a lawsuit is filed against foreign carriers, who only slightly suffer from it.

Easyjet is going to strengthen in France

So what is going to happen?

EasyJet is going to strengthen in France.

The British company will pressure the DGAC to release slots at Orly airport and with a rightful reason.

Since it operates with less cost and identical devices that serve the same lines, it will thus require Air France to cut its average selling price in order to keep its customers, which will certainly not make business easy for the national airline.

And public authorities will be powerless in front of this inevitable phenomenon

To overcome this deadlock, we must rethink French short haul air transport, create a new company built on true "low costs" criteria, be they done the French way, decide to give up Air France layover services, at least in the Metropolis, recreate a conquering image and an adapted competition tool beyond our borders.

“Vaste programme” (Heavy program, translator’s note), as de Gaulle used to say.

EasyJet order: Rethinking the French short-haul air transport
Jean-Louis Baroux, is the former president of APG (Air Promotion Group) and the creator of the CAF (Cannes Airlines Forum) which became the World Air Forum.

Air Transportation Specialist, he signed at L'Archipel Publishers ''Compagnies Aériennes: la faillite du modèle” [“Airlines: A Bankruptcy Model” – translator’s note], a book that all tourism professionals should have read.

The copyrights will be donated to charity. It can be purchased at: www.editionsarchipel.com

Written by Jean-Louis Baroux translated by Joséphine Foucher the 07/03/2014
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