Sacre bleu! Air France dominates French short-haul market with over 50% of scheduled capacity

As enjoys a couple of days attending the 6th annual FrenchConnect conference hosted by Shannon Airport in Limerick, it seems an appropriate time to compare the French short-haul market with that of the UK short-haul market, which was examined last week. editor, Ralph Anker was asked to “set the scene” at the opening of this year’s FrenchConnect. To get a thorough “Overview of the Low Cost and Regional Airlines and the French Airports and Regions” you can download all Ralph’s Powerpoint slides here.

Despite also being concentrated around a capital city with multiple airports, Air France has been determined to hang on to its dominant position in the market. It offers almost six times as many seats on short-haul destinations from French airports as its nearest rival easyJet. This is helped by the fact that on domestic routes, where Air France is very dominant, capacity is double-counted.

Chart: France to EU27*
* EU27 plus Morocco, Norway and Switzerland. Also includes domestic French routes.
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 30 March 2009

While easyJet and Ryanair are ranked second and third, only one other low-cost airline, Vueling, makes it into the top 15 of airlines. Other European flag carriers come ahead of the LCCs and are led by Lufthansa, British Airways and Iberia. CCM, in which Air France is a minority shareholder, owes its position to its routes to Corsica.

Image: Air France plane on apron
Determined to hang on to its dominant position: Air France has six times as many seats on short-haul destinations from French airports as its nearest rival easyJet.

LCCs have biggest impact on UK and Ireland

Maybe not surprisingly the two country markets from France where LCCs have had the biggest impact are Ireland and the UK. On routes to these countries legacy carriers have less than half of all seats. Overall traditional legacy or flag-carrier airlines have just over 60% of the scheduled market on international routes to the other 14 EU countries that were members before 2004. LCCs have 32% of the market while other types of airline have just 8% of the market.

Chart: France to pre-2004 EU members
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 30 March 2009

Legacy carriers still have over 80% of capacity on routes from France to Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Apart from Luxembourg there are also no low-cost services to Finland where Blue1 provides the only competition to Finnair.

Image: planes on the apron
Marseille’s Mp2 low cost terminal helped the airport start 10 new short haul routes last year. Of 111 such routes Ryanair started 32 and easyJet 28.

A similar analysis of scheduled capacity by airline type on routes to newer EU member states (plus Morocco, Norway and Switzerland), reveals that flag carriers have almost two-thirds of the market, LCCs 32% and Others just 2%. Much of this is influenced by the large Moroccan market where LCCs (Atlas Blue, easyJet, jet4you, Ryanair and France) have almost 50% of the recently fast-growing market. The recent demise of flyLAL means that there are currently no non-stop flights between France and Lithuania.

Chart: France to post-2003 EU members Scheduled capacity share by airline type
* Morocco, Norway and Switzerland are not in the EU but do have deregulated aviation markets.
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 30 March 2009

111 new short-haul routes between April 08 and March 09

Analysis of’s new route database reveals that at least 111 new short-haul routes were started by 33 airlines from 24 French airports between 1 April 2008 and 31 March 2009. Paris CDG saw 13 new services start operated by eight different airlines, followed by Lyon with 12 new services (mostly by easyJet). Marseille and Nice are tied in third place with 10 each.

Ryanair (32) and easyJet (28) started 60 of the routes accounting for well over 50% of new service starts. The UK with 37 new routes (one in every three) was still the most popular destination for new routes followed by French domestic services.

Image: easJet at mp2
easyJet’s new routes started with an average frequency of 6.4 weekly flights versus 3.3 for Ryanair.


  1. Bob Gedat says:

    comprehensive and helpful as ever

  2. The Marketing Slogan once created by good old LCC “buzz” KLM´s first half hearted try to position an LCC within the group, was “More France than Air France”, related to the services from UK to France. This indication – back in the early 2001-2002 – has not significantly changed: The Continent´s legacy carriers continue to dominate the skies to/from France and the UK/Ireland is winning the skies in favour of the LCC´s: its mainly a question of creating and stimulating demand.

  3. Rigas Doganis says:

    Good report but misses one key point which is that the LCCs have pushed Air France out of many key routes from French provinces to the UK – e.g. no Air France flights from Toulouse, Marseilles, Lyon or Bordeaux to London and only 3 per day from Nice to London City! Air France has entrenched a fortress hub at CDG/Orly and has largely abandoned the provincial airports’ needs for international services and is interested only in their providing feeder services to its Paris hub. replies: Apart from Nice to London City (which according to latest OAG data is operated just once per day by Air France), the airline’s only other UK services from regional French airports are twice-daily Strasbourg to London City flights, and 11 weekly flights between Lyon and Birmingham. Which gives Air France around 2% of the UK – French Regions market compared with Ryanair (38%), easyJet (30%) and British Airways (21%).

  4. C’est tres interessant que le Monsieur a identifie qu’AF a etablie un ‘fortess hub’ dans les aeroports de Paris de Gaulle at d’Orly at que maintenant la compagnie AF ne fait aucun attention aux aeroports regionals. Mais on trouve exactement la meme chose an Angleterre n’est pas, ou ‘British Airways’ est devenu, en realite, London Airways, meme Heathrow Airways!

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