CONNECT! 2014: easyJet consolidating presence in France

easyJet has established itself in France as the alternative to Air France, taking the number 2 position at eight of the top 10 airports in terms of traffic, according to the orange airline’s country manager, François Bacchetta.

The missing airports are Marseille, where Ryanair has a strong presence and Beauvais, from where Ryanair serves the Paris market – “but that’s not in our model,” Bacchetta commented, referring to easyJet’s preference for primary airports.

Although pleased with this position, Bacchetta confirmed that there is the potential for much more, pointing out that low-fare airline penetration in France is only about 26%, whereas for Europe as a whole, budget carriers provide more than 40% of the traffic. “In fact, 98% of new intra-EU routes were opened by low-fare airlines in the last eight years,” he added.

To develop more airports, Bacchetta believes there needs to be a “good balance of charges” by airports to provide “a natural incentive for growth”. This is because ground operations take up 27% of airline’s costs in France, second only to fuel costs (32%), he explained. “And fuel costs affect everybody equally.”

“A good airport is one which does everything it can to increase its catchment, especially via public service links, and charges airlines only for the services they use,” Bacchetta added. “It should also pay attention to its productivity by controlling its operating expenditure.”

Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/
Marrakech, Morocco

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