French airports see traffic fall in September; easyJet grows Lyon domestic routes by 50%

Image: easyJet
Lyon’s traffic has grown at an average of more than 10% per month since easyJet established it as a base in April.

A planned four day strike by Air France pilots this weekend would severely disrupt traffic and have a major impact on travel demand through French airports. This month UAF, the federation of French airports, reported that passenger numbers through French airports fell in September by around 3%, the first such drop in five years. This is confirmed by anna.aero’s analysis of traffic data from France’s biggest airports which showed that at 12 of the busiest airports traffic was down 2.8%.

Not surprisingly, total figures are heavily influenced by what happens at the two main Paris airports, which still account for around 60% of all French airport traffic. In September passenger numbers at CDG were down 2.8% while at Orly they were down 5.4%.

Chart: traffic growth
Source: Airport websites and contacts

The good news was that in October traffic figures bounced back with most airports reporting better performance than in September.

Lyon benefits from easyJet base

One airport benefiting from low-cost airlines is Lyon. Since easyJet established it as a designated base in April traffic has been growing at more than 10% per month on average. Of particular interest has been the impact the airline has had on two domestic routes to Bordeaux and Toulouse. Both of these routes generated around 250,000 annual passengers for Air France in 2007.

easyJet began competing on Bordeaux in April, and on Toulouse in May, in both cases with double-daily flights. The increase in capacity was around 35%-40% on both routes.

Chart: Domestic route demand
Source: Lyon airport

Since May traffic on both routes has been stimulated by on average 50%-55%, suggesting that average load factors have increased. However, what is not publicly known is the market split between Air France and easyJet on both routes. If easyJet is only responsible for the additional traffic then its load factor on the routes since May would be around 75% for Bordeaux and 64% for Toulouse.

Strasbourg still suffering post-TGV blues

The launch of the TGV-est line last June continues to take its toll on traffic at Strasbourg airport where passenger numbers on the key route to Paris continue to fall. Before the TGV link to Paris opened air traffic averaged 84,000 passengers per month. In the last 12 months air passengers on the route have averaged 39,000, a drop of over 53%. While year-to-date domestic traffic is down 28% (Paris is down 45%, all other domestic routes combined are down just 5.5%), international traffic which contributes around one quarter of all passengers has also fallen 17%. Charter traffic is down almost 27% while passengers to London are down just over 30% as Air France moved operations from London Gatwick to London City last November and reduced capacity at the same time.

A new route by CSA to Prague has so far generated 10,000 passengers since it started at the end of March while traffic to Istanbul and Tunis is also up for the current year.


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