Air France has confirmed it is looking at launching a low cost airline based at Paris’s Orly Sud airport to start operations in spring or summer next year. Called Air France Soleil, it would be an expansion of the KLM owned carrier Transavia that currently flies a combination of scheduled and charter flights, mainly from the Netherlands.
The new budget airline would take on long established operators such as easyJet, Ryanair and Air Berlin. It is a high risk area .. several such airlines have collapsed. But the successful ones carry millions – Ryanair 39 million passengers in the first nine months of this year, easyJet had 33 million travellers and Air Berlin 13 million.
Domestically, Air France already has a very successful competitor – the high speed TGV trains, which travel at up to 320 kilometres an hour. That enables a journey of Paris to Marseilles on the south coast in three hours. The train network, which is 1,500 kilometres long in France carries 250,000 passengers per day. It also serves neighbouring countries including Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
Air Franch-KLM’s board will meet next week to decide whether to go ahead with the project. The company has not yet said how much it would be prepared to invest in the business.