Air France still dominates domestic routes from French regional airports; international routes left to foreign carriers

In Strasbourg, Air France dominates with 76% of the airport’s seat capacity this August, and 25% of the airport’s capacity is still allocated to flights to Paris, in spite of competition from high-speed rail. For international routes, French regional airports to a large extent rely on foreign carriers.

In Strasbourg, Air France dominates with 76% of the airport’s seat capacity this August, and 25% of the airport’s capacity is still allocated to flights to Paris, in spite of competition from high-speed rail. For international routes, French regional airports to a large extent rely on foreign carriers.

Air France’s network strategy is focused on treating Paris as a hub, especially for feeding domestic passengers onto international flights. As a result, the airline’s presence at French regional airports (those outside of Paris) is limited primarily to domestic operations dominated by services to Paris. Examining the markets served and carriers at the 12 busiest French airports outside of Paris (from Nice with 9.6 million passengers in 2010 to Biarritz with just under one million passengers) reveals some fascinating results.

Domestic routes dominate, especially to Paris

Of the 12 airports examined, nine have at least 45% of their capacity allocated to domestic routes, while four of these have 40% or more of seats flying to just one destination, Paris.

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 1 August 2011

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 1 August 2011

The smaller the airport, the more dominant domestic flying becomes. Only the top three of Nice, Lyon and Marseille have at least 55% of all scheduled capacity flying to and from foreign destinations. Ajaccio and Bastia on the island of Corsica have less than 15% of scheduled capacity operating to destinations outside France. Lille, which only is around 200 kilometres from Paris, is the only one of these larger regional airports not to have direct flights to Paris.

In recent years, the TGV high-speed trains have diverted some domestic passengers travelling to/from Paris from air to rail, but even Strasbourg, which has seen traffic fall on the Paris route by over 50%, still has over 25% of its route capacity serving the capital. With Air France having 80% of the French domestic market, this results in the airline having a major presence at these airports. At eight of the 12 airports, Air France’s market share is over 40%, peaking in Strasbourg at 76%. Only at Nice (21%) and Marseille (27%) does Air France have less than 30% of all capacity.

easyJet and Ryanair beat Air France for international traffic

An analysis of the scheduled international services at these regional airports presents a very different picture. Weekly one-way seat capacity on international flights ranges from 103,201 at Nice to just 1,736 at Ajaccio. Air France has no scheduled international flights from three of the 12 airports examined and only in Strasbourg does its market share exceed 15%. Three years ago, Air France had a much more extensive network of international routes from Lyon, but has since dropped services to Frankfurt, Madrid, Munich and Zurich; while flights to Birmingham, Düsseldorf and Hamburg which operate for most of the year, do not operate at all in August.

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 1 August 2011

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 1 August 2011

Conversely, easyJet has at least a 20% share of international capacity at nine airports while Ryanair has at least a 10% share at four airports. Ryanair’s market share of international services at Marseille is probably higher than indicated from the data as the airline recently re-introduced several routes for the peak summer period (mid-April to end of August) but using non-based aircraft.

At Nice, Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux and Toulouse, there is a broad mix of foreign airlines from flag-carriers (British Airways, Iberia, Lufthansa, SAS) to LCCs (Aer Lingus, bmibaby, germanwings, jet2.com, Norwegian, Vueling). At the smaller regional airports, additional international flights are provided by the following (excludes Air France, easyJet and Ryanair):

Airport Airlines operating international routes
Nantes Air Transat, Flybe, Iberia, jet4you, Royal Air Maroc, SmartWings, Transavia.com, Tunisair
Montpellier Air Algerie, Air Arabia Maroc, Cimber Sterling, Iberia, Transavia.com
Lille Aigle Azur, Air Algerie, Luxair, Royal Air Maroc
Ajaccio Luxair, Transavia.com
Strasbourg Air Algerie, Czech Airlines, Iberia, Royal Air Maroc, Tunisair
Bastia germanwings, Jetairfly, Lufthansa, Luxair
Biarritz Transavia.com
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 1 August 2011

In the UK, where British Airways also has a minimal presence on international routes from regional airports, the difference is that UK-based scheduled and charter airlines (and Ryanair) dominate international services rather than mainland European carriers, suggesting that the UK regions tend to ‘export’ more passengers, while French regional airports focus on ‘importing’ passengers.


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Comments

  1. Simon says:

    Nantes also has Air Austral and Montpellier additionally has bmi baby

    • Air Austral’s one-stop service is domestic, but indeed, bmibaby’s MAN-MPL route curiously is missing from OAG’s data.

      Due to the choice of using August data, when as many leisure carriers as possible would be included, there is also the risk that some highly business focused airlines were left out. For example, Brussels Airlines is not listed as serving Strasbourg, since its route does not operate in August.

      • Pascal says:

        Yes, bmibaby will commence MAN/MPL on 02JUL11 with 2 flights per week (Tuesday+Saturday.
        In addition to this, Air Mediterranée will serve MPL/ORN (international route) every Friday 17Jun-09Sep

  2. Miquel says:

    And there is also the upcoming Vueling’s move into Toulouse airport, basing an Airbus A320 there, this is not far from the airline’s main base at BCN but will be an interesting market experiment…

Comments are closed