Air France’s HOP! leaves CityJet without a leg to stand on
The first stage of Air France’s structural reorganisation for its short and medium-haul operations — under its plan named Transform 2015 — has been announced this week, with the integration of the Group’s existing regional airlines, Airlinair, Brit Air and Régional, into one all-encompassing brand — HOP! From the start of summer schedule, HOP! will operate 530 daily flights to 136 destinations across 15 countries.
CityJet pilots: hopping mad
However, three airlines which fly under the AF code, Air Corsica, CityJet (incorporating VLM) and Scot Airways, representing nearly 10% of Air France’s weekly flights, have not been included in the reorganisation. While Air Corsica (of which Air France owns 13.19%) and Scot Airways (owned wholly by Loganair) could be excused from not becoming part of HOP! on the grounds of not being wholly-owned by the group, it is still not clear why CityJet (100% owned by Air France) has not been incorporated under the new brand, although it could simply be because they don’t want the loss-making unit – tellingly CityJet’s pilots threatened to strike on Christmas Eve, after hearing rumours that Air France was seeking new buyers. The HOP! announcement would have been the perfect opportunity to come clean on CityJet’s fate – however there has been no word from Air France HQ.
Looking at the combined new entity, HOP! will command over 30% of all flights currently operated under the AF code. However, given that its fleet will comprise of 98 aircraft with between 48 and 100 seats, its resultant share of weekly seats is only just over half that number. Naturally, the lion’s share of weekly flights and seats will remain under the control of the mainline carrier.
Domestic focus for HOP!
Marketing budgets for the new carrier would do well to be focussed on France, as the airline will generate over 60% of its weekly journeys in the French domestic market, with over 50% of flights involving Paris CDG or Paris Orly. Nearly 30% of HOP!’s flying will originate at Lyon, with the remaining 20% spread across the rest of the country.
The high yields required to fuel regional jets today must still be evident on France-Italy services, HOP!’s second largest country market pair. In terms of any significant changes to these statistics, there 10 seasonal domestic routes, primarily services from regional French airports to Ajaccio, Calvi and Figari on Corsica, which will see new HOP! flights this summer. anna.aero has registered just one new upcoming international route that will become operated by HOP! – from Calvi to Geneva – which will be added on a seasonal basis from 15 June.