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Air France set for €180 million hit as tourists avoid Paris Olympics

Tourists meander along the path of the River Seine in May 2024
Tourists meander along the path of the River Seine in May 2024 Copyright Christophe Ena/Copyright 2018 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Christophe Ena/Copyright 2018 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Indrabati Lahiri
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Tourists are being put off by the idea of large crowds and hotel price hikes expected in Paris during the 2024 Olympics.


Air France, France's national carrier is preparing itself for a €180 million blow as tourists avoid the French capital due to the Paris 2024 summer Olympics. The summer Olympics, the first Paris Olympics in 100 years, start on 26 July and end on 11 August. Air France is the official airline for the event. 

However, it has revealed airline bookings are down because non-Games enthusiasts have been put off from the idea of visiting Paris by the large crowds expected during the period, and the potentially raised prices for hotels, restaurants and other tourism activities.  

As a result, airline bookings for Air France have been disappointing, with flights bookings to and from Paris significantly lower than other key European cities. 

This potentially mean that the Air France-KLM Group sees group sales drop anywhere between €160 million to €180 million for the June-August period. 

The group said in a statement: "International markets show a significant avoidance of Paris. Travel between the city and other destinations is also below the usual June-August average as residents in France seem to be postponing their holidays until after the Olympic Games or considering alternative travel plans. 

"Travel to and from France is expected to normalise after the Olympic Games, with encouraging demand levels projected for the end of August and the month of September."

Back in early June, Air France was still optimistic about the number of bookings made by Olympic athletes and para-athletes, expecting summer 2024 demand to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels. 

A statement released by Air France on 11 June said: "45 days ahead of the Olympic Games opening ceremony, based on reservations made at this stage, the company expects to carry 20% of all athletes and para-athletes travelling to Paris and France, ie 1 in 5 athletes, mainly from Brazil, the United States, Italy and Japan. 

"Over the summer of 2024, Air France expects to carry up to 125,000 customers per day, equivalent to the volumes during summer 2019. Athletes, delegations and supporters will be arriving en masse over 24, 25 and 26 July, and departing on 11, 12 and 13 August, with a peak in traffic expected on 12 August."

Tourists photograph the clock showing the countdown to the Paris Olympics
Tourists photograph the clock showing the countdown to the Paris OlympicsAP Photo

The airline also revealed that supporters for both the Paris Olympics and the Paralympic Games would mostly be from the UK, Germany, Italy, US and Japan. 

French election results also likely to cause tourism jitters

Although crowds and rising hotel prices are significant deterrents for Paris tourists this summer, there is increasing speculation that the turmoil caused by the snap French elections could be another reason why visitors are planning to keep away.  

The first round of the French elections was held on 30 June, with the next and final round being scheduled for 7 July. Currently, the far-right political party, National Rally, headed by Marine Le Pen is leading the polls. Le Pen's party has promised more tax cuts, but also tighter immigration laws, amongst other things. 

Currently, French President Emmanuel Macron's popularity, as well as that of France's centrist parties appear to be on the wane. The increased possibility of protests and riots following the final election results has also been dampening tourism hopes in the French capital. 

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