Air France maintains stranglehold on CDG

Logo: Paris AirportSince CDG began operating in 1974 Orly has remained open but strictly controlled with various traffic distribution rules over the years ‘encouraging’ growth at CDG. In 1996 CDG’s traffic overtook that at Orly and just five years later CDG’s passenger numbers were double those at Orly.

Image: Air france target
At 60 million Paris CDG is a best seller not far behind Heathrow. Dominating Air France jealously protects its asset.
Chart: Paris CDG traffic and growth
Source: ADP, ICAO

Between 2001 and 2003 traffic at CDG stagnated but since then growth has consistently been between five and six percent. Last year traffic almost reached 60 million passengers putting CDG not that far behind Europe’s busiest airport at London Heathrow with just under 68 million passengers.

While Orly focuses on point-to-point operations CDG offers more connections. Over 50% of Orly’s traffic in 2006 was on domestic flights while at CDG the figure is less than 10%. Thus the two airports serve different markets.

With a combined passenger throughput of over 86 million in 2007 Aeroports de Paris’ two airports form the second biggest multiple airport system in Europe after London, whose five major airports handled almost 140 million passengers in 2007.

Chart: CDG Seasonality
Source: ADP

CDG’s demand peaks in July and despite the number of strikes that have affected the airport in recent months the airport’s seasonality profile has remained broadly consistent.

Image: Paris Airport
Air France has CDG 2 to itself, including the new S3 satellite. Air France offers a staggering 16 times as many seats as the next biggest carrier Lufthansa

Air France: virtual domestic monopoly

This winter under 8% of CDG’s scheduled seat capacity is on domestic routes with Air France offering daily flights to 13 destinations. Toulouse is served with 48 weekly departures while Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille and Nice each have 42 weekly flights. Air France’s average aircraft size on these routes is 126 seats. The only competition is provided by easyJet with double-daily flights to Nice and twelve flights per week to Biarritz. easyJet operates 156-seat A319s.

Air France: >50% of international capacity

On international services Air France is still surprisingly dominant with well over 50% of all flights and seats.

Airline Frequency Share Capacity Share Number of Routes
Air France 54.3% 53.6% 136
Lufthansa 6.1% 3.4% 9
easyJet 3.5% 3.3% 14
Vueling 2.2% 2.4% 9
Alitalia 2.2% 2.1% 3
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 25 February 200

In terms of capacity Air France offers a staggering 16 times as many seats as the next biggest carrier Lufthansa and offers nearly 10 times as many routes as easyJet. Both easyJet and Vueling have established bases at CDG but LCCs as a whole have a relatively low 9.2% share of available seat capacity.

Italy beats US for international popularity

In terms of leading country markets at CDG the top 10 contains some possibly unexpected members.

Country Frequency Share Capacity Share
Italy 11.5% 9.8%
USA 5.2% 8.8%
Germany 13.2% 8.5%
UK 11.1% 8.4%
France 8.9% 7.4%
Spain 7.1% 6.5%
Switzerland 4.0% 3.5%
Brazil 1.2% 2.1%
Japan 1.0% 2.0%
Netherlands 2.1% 1.9%
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 25 February 2008

The prominent rankings of long-haul destinations such as the USA, Brazil and Japan may come as a surprise. Canada, China, Russia, India and the UAE all rank ahead of the leading Nordic country (Denmark in 17th) and any of the new-EU countries in Central Europe (Poland ranks a lowly 22nd).

Image: Tunnel
CDG 2 – iconic but not particularly well laid out or loved. New routes still to start in 2008 include Aer Lingus to Belfast International, American Airlines to Boston, easyJet to Hamburg, flybe to Belfast City and Glasgow.

Plenty of new services in 2007 – more coming in 2008

New routes offered by airlines in 2007 included Air France to London City and Seattle, Click Air to Bilbao, easyJet to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Madrid, Sterling to Oslo, and Vueling to Bologna, Granada and Jerez. So far this year the airport has seen new services by Air France to Shannon as well as easyJet’s expansion to Biarritz, Krakow, Marrakech, Porto and Venice. New routes still to start include Aer Lingus to Belfast International, American Airlines to Boston, easyJet to Hamburg, flybe to Belfast City and Glasgow, Intersky to Friedrichshafen, MyAir to Brindisi and Sterling to Aalborg. British Airways will also be launching its transatlantic service to New York from the airport in June.


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