Latest figures published this week by the French DGAC show that air traffic in the French domestic market was down 0.4% in 2007 to 23.217 million passengers. However, this disguises a difference between routes involving Paris and inter-regional routes. Domestic air routes from Paris saw passenger numbers drop 2.3% to 17.452 million, but inter-regional air traffic grew by 5.6% to 5.675 million.
Among the top 10 domestic routes from Paris demand was relatively stable across eight of them, but traffic to and from Strasbourg was down 26% due to the introduction last June of the new TGV Est line. Traffic on the Basle route also fell 17% after having grown 19% the previous year. easyJet, which had operated the route twice daily since October 2005, reduced this to daily in summer 2007 before abandoning the route completely at the start of the winter season.
In 2007, there were 17 inter-regional French domestic routes with more than 100,000 passengers, with five exceeding the quarter-million passenger mark. easyJet will soon be operating twice daily on both Lyon-Bordeaux and Lyon-Toulouse. To fill these flights at a satisfactory load factor, total traffic will either need to be stimulated around 60% or Air France will have to lose passengers to easyJet. Other airlines, such as Flybe, will be watching to see what happens with great interest.
Among the top 25 country markets in 2007 Egypt showed the biggest growth, though this was really only bouncing back to previous demand levels, compensating for a dramatic drop in traffic in 2006 triggered by terrorist incidents in hotel resorts. Five countries achieved double-digit growth for the second year running, led by Spain and Morocco.
Traffic between France and the UK, still by some way the largest country market at 12.3 million passengers, was up just 1.5% in 2007. While domestic air travel demand was flat, international traffic was up 8% with regional airports (+10.5%) outperforming their Parisian counterparts (+6.8%) for the second year running.
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