Tectonic changes to AF French domestic network

Old May 28, 20, 1:58 am
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Tectonic changes to AF French domestic network

I know I use a grand word in the title... but this is really a very radical change from what we have gotten to know over decades:
  • French domestic network reduced by 40%
  • Focus on feeding CDG and Lyon
  • No more HOP flights from Orly
  • Several cities will loose all their routes
  • All transversal routes no longer served (but many transferred to Transavia if I understood correctly)
  • Thousands of jobs lost
  • New strategy for French domestic/HOP presented end of June
There is some background in this article (in French) https://www.air-journal.fr/2020-05-2...v-5220454.html
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Old May 28, 20, 3:52 am
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Domestic network has been bleeding cash since years, notably due to the numerous ground staff in province (some of them still inherited from Air Inter), limitation of HOP flights/capacity asked by AF pilots unions etc.

The hub in LYS is interesting. Although they really need to keep connections short if they want to remain competitive against TGV. A "cadencement" like SBB/CFF has organized for rail service is really a must.

There was one domestic hub in CFE for transversal routes as well a few years back.
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Old May 28, 20, 5:26 am
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
All transversal routes no longer served (but many transferred to Transavia if I understood correctly)
You mean Eurowings? ups
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Old May 28, 20, 8:04 am
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Originally Posted by bodory View Post
Domestic network has been bleeding cash since years, notably due to the numerous ground staff in province (some of them still inherited from Air Inter), limitation of HOP flights/capacity asked by AF pilots unions etc.

The hub in LYS is interesting. Although they really need to keep connections short if they want to remain competitive against TGV. A "cadencement" like SBB/CFF has organized for rail service is really a must.

There was one domestic hub in CFE for transversal routes as well a few years back.
LYS is already a Hop! hub and all the Hop! flights are in one hallway (I fly some provincial routes). So 30mn connections are possible.
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Old May 28, 20, 9:02 am
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From the articles in Air Journal and La Tribune a couple of things aren't clear to me yet:
  • "HOP will no longer fly to Orly" - I presume that means that the AF mainline routes (NCE, MRS, MPL, TLS, BOD, BIQ, etc) will still operate from ORY?
  • Will there be HOP routes that will be switched over to AF mainline only to preserve the link to Paris? Pau, Perpignan maybe? I presume that some routes may completely lose their connection to Paris. Castres, Brive...
  • So Lyon will be the new intra-regions transfer point, and CDG the transfer point for everything else. Will that also mean moving the DOMTOM flights from ORY to CDG? Maybe not necessary as the few routes that may be lost (the Castres-type routes) didn't provide that much feed anyway, and the other ones (MRS; TLS, BOD, etc) plus the local Paris O&D is enough to keep the DOMTOM flights at ORY
  • Will LYS actually be more of an intra-regons hub than today? So if Castres or Brive are cut from Paris, wil lthey be connected to Lyon instead? One of the articles mentioned that for some destinations, going to Paris means changing planes at LYS - I find that hard to believe. With the exception of cities that are super close to paris (the likes of LIL) if there is any air connection, it would be to Paris
  • And what about the intra-region traffic flows that will be absorbed by Transavia? Surely they won't be having as dense a schedule - running three daily flights from Lille to Nantes may work when you deploy an ERJ-145 with few seats, but not with Transavia's 150+ seat 737s. So less routes than today, and thus more hubbing in LYS?
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Old May 28, 20, 3:25 pm
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Originally Posted by bodory View Post
Domestic network has been bleeding cash .
Yes, it was definitely time to make this reduction, especially when CDG is equipped with a railway station. I don't know if the 40% reduction is even bold enough, maybe routes are being preserved for political reasons?
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Old May 29, 20, 2:52 am
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Originally Posted by HalconBCN View Post
...especially when CDG is equipped with a railway station...
Now all we need are trains that actually go there. A few do. But not enough.

Having said that, the reductions that are being announced now are routes that cannot be replaced by train service to CDG. It's transversal routes (fancy doing Brest-Marseille or Metz-Toulouse by train?), it's linking small airports to Paris, etc.
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Old May 29, 20, 4:17 am
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
Having said that, the reductions that are being announced now are routes that cannot be replaced by train service to CDG. It's transversal routes (fancy doing Brest-Marseille or Metz-Toulouse by train?)
There were no direct AF BES-MRS or ETZ-TLS services anyway. There is a BES-MRS service on FR and an ETZ-TLS service on T7, however.
As to connecting services, BES, MRS, ETZ (which is not connected by air to either ORY or CDG anyway) and TLS are all connected to LYS so you could in principle connect via LYS (I have not checked whether it makes sense from a timetable perspective however).
I am sure that there are city pairs which would illustrate your point better but, ultimately, the question is whether one should expect AF to connect every conceivable city pair in France where train connections are sub-optimal. Let us not forget either that Easyjet already provides a rather substantial number of direct "transversal" routes.

Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
Now all we need are trains that actually go there. A few do. But not enough.
Indeed. I think that is where I think a lot more thinking and work should go into: better integration between air and rail, not just at CDG but also at regional airports.
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Old May 29, 20, 4:50 am
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",

Originally Posted by NickB View Post
There were no direct AF BES-MRS or ETZ-TLS services anyway. There is a BES-MRS service on FR and an ETZ-TLS service on T7, however.
As to connecting services, BES, MRS, ETZ (which is not connected by air to either ORY or CDG anyway) and TLS are all connected to LYS so you could in principle connect via LYS (I have not checked whether it makes sense from a timetable perspective however).
I am sure that there are city pairs which would illustrate your point better but, ultimately, the question is whether one should expect AF to connect every conceivable city pair in France where train connections are sub-optimal. Let us not forget either that Easyjet already provides a rather substantial number of direct "transversal" routes.
Let's take BRS-NCE or LIL-BOD. Doesn't matter. The point was that I replied to an earlier poster who I though - but I could have misunderstood - was referring only to the interruption of services in the context of routes being doable by rail in <2H30, when in fact the cuts proposed now concern routes which have nothing to do with rail connectivity.

But you raise one of the motivations for AF to do this: they face stark competition not only on Paris routes but also on transversal routes from FR and U2. Which is why they'll deploy HV.

Originally Posted by NickB View Post
Indeed. I think that is where I think a lot more thinking and work should go into: better integration between air and rail, not just at CDG but also at regional airports.
Yep, and SNCF/Thalys needs to play its part. Just make CDG a transfer hub for transversal TGV lines, where once an hour trains from/to Lille-Bruxelles, Nantes, Rennes, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Lyon-Marseille meet and allow connections off those trains to flights from CDG and for easy connections between TGV trains to/from those regional cities. They could vary the "branches", for instance the train coming from Brussels-Lille could continue to Lyon-Marseille one hour and to Bordeaux the next, or the one from Strasbourg could continue to Nantes in one hour and to Rennes the next. Stuff like that, Deutsche Bahn has something like that for its ICE network and hubs where they change "branches" at connection points. Only trouble is that the TGV station doesn't have enough platforms for that I think. Pity, a missed opportunity.
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Old May 29, 20, 1:30 pm
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
Only trouble is that the TGV station doesn't have enough platforms for that I think. Pity, a missed opportunity.
Can they take over the RER platform in Terminal 2 and only use the Roissypole for Ile-de-France transport (cutting RER B to only Roissypole but not to CDG T2) so they can have an extra platform and 2 more tracks for the TGV and the future Paris Express service?

That will trigger some strikes probably and will also push more pax to use the Express service into Paris instead of a time-consuming trip from 2E->CDG T2 station->CDG VAL->Roissypole->RER B.

I think the bigger issue is there may not a have a train depot nearby CDG so the train arrives must immediately return or only do a pass-through.
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Old May 30, 20, 3:41 am
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Originally Posted by tbaiyun View Post
Can they take over the RER platform in Terminal 2 and only use the Roissypole for Ile-de-France transport (cutting RER B to only Roissypole but not to CDG T2) so they can have an extra platform and 2 more tracks for the TGV and the future Paris Express service?
That would make zero sense, imo. The last thing you want is create additional disincentives for people to take public transport to reach the airport. Forcing the vast majority of CDG2 users to travel via RER Roissypole and then CDGVal (assuming that CDGVal would be able to cope with the increase in traffic, which is not obvious) would do just that.
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Old May 30, 20, 6:06 am
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It's a good thing that "France is in the air", and thus flying far above the tectonic changes happening on the ground....

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Old May 30, 20, 8:56 pm
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Sorry not sure what you mean about your tectonic changes so apologies if I don't get your humor. It's not a joke what is happening in America. Apart from COVID we have a major number of outbreaks that are related to never-ending racial violence. I would hope all people posting here would want to get France back in the air.

PS I take the subway from Manhattan to work at AF JFK. Let people make their own decisions. Please don't force the people who make your flights happen think you are a douche bag.

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Old May 31, 20, 3:04 am
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As you said this is really an earthquake...
We knew already about the ecolo circus of stopping to sell point-to point tickets on routes accessible by train in less than 2.5hrs, and now this !
I am quite surprised of the amount of cuts. Of couse we knew that a lot of domestic routes were non profitable, but a significant reason for this (not the only one) was the AF cost structure. With Covid crisis, AF has a unique opportunity to make a deep restructuring and cut costs at HQ and in stations. It is notorious that some stations (MRS, Corsica to name a few) were plagued and run by extremist unions with overstaffing, poor productivity, etc etc. So, after restructuring, some of those routes could become profitable again. Of course, some of those routes will likely go to Transavia but not all as some are not justifying a B737 capacity. AF competitors (Volotea, U2, FR) are likely super happy and are preparing to fill the gap. Very sad for AF.
AF will surely want to keep their slots at ORY, so the TO option is a likely one.

Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
From the articles in Air Journal and La Tribune a couple of things aren't clear to me yet:
"HOP will no longer fly to Orly" - I presume that means that the AF mainline routes (NCE, MRS, MPL, TLS, BOD, BIQ, etc) will still operate from ORY?
That's my understanding, with maybe an exception of BOD which could be all-CDG in the future because of former announcement. Note that MPL and BIQ from ORY had several HOP aircrafts. Will they upgauge some flights to AF mainline and reduce frequencies, that's possible.
BES also belongs to this category.

Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
Will there be HOP routes that will be switched over to AF mainline only to preserve the link to Paris? Pau, Perpignan maybe? I presume that some routes may completely lose their connection to Paris. Castres, Brive...
PUF and PGF are good examples. We could add TLN also. Those cities need airlinks to Paris and not only to CDG. I never fly those routes and I haven't check which planes were used before the crisis. I believe TLN was all mainline, PUF a mix of HOP and mainline and PGF mostly HOP. I believe they will all be AF mainline but with maybe reduced frequencies. Or some could go to TO.
For other thin routes like Castres, BVE, Aurillac, etc. Those links are vital also. And they often benefits from "obligation de service public" incentives. I am sure that Castres is also heavily subsidized by Pierre Fabre company. I believe Chalair/Twin Jet could take some of them.

Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
So Lyon will be the new intra-regions transfer point, and CDG the transfer point for everything else. Will that also mean moving the DOMTOM flights from ORY to CDG? Maybe not necessary as the few routes that may be lost (the Castres-type routes) didn't provide that much feed anyway, and the other ones (MRS; TLS, BOD, etc) plus the local Paris O&D is enough to keep the DOMTOM flights at ORY
I don't think AF DOM-TOM flights will go to CDG. But if some important domestic routes (like BOD) were all moving to CDG, this could be a game changer for AF DOM-TOM routes.

Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
Will LYS actually be more of an intra-regons hub than today? So if Castres or Brive are cut from Paris, wil lthey be connected to Lyon instead? One of the articles mentioned that for some destinations, going to Paris means changing planes at LYS - I find that hard to believe. With the exception of cities that are super close to paris (the likes of LIL) if there is any air connection, it would be to Paris
I don't believe a second that BVE or castres will be linked to LYS. Nobody will fly Paris to BVE via LYS, unless you are XP-short and RJ afficionado
If AF leaves those routes, another carrier will likely take them (Chalair ?)

Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
And what about the intra-region traffic flows that will be absorbed by Transavia? Surely they won't be having as dense a schedule - running three daily flights from Lille to Nantes may work when you deploy an ERJ-145 with few seats, but not with Transavia's 150+ seat 737s. So less routes than today, and thus more hubbing in LYS?
more hubbing in LYS for sure but some routes will justify A320/B737 family capacity (e.g. NTE to NCE).
I am wondering also what will happen to the numerous HOP links between regions and Corsica during the summer. People will not fly through LYS for sure.

A lot of questions remain unanswered, but I am guessing the final plan will be likely very different. We'll see soon a lot of negotiations and pushback from local politicians (some justified and some less justified). It has already started with F. Bayrou for PUF, and more to come for sure :
https://www.sudouest.fr/2020/05/29/f...22795-4344.php
https://www.20minutes.fr/economie/27...eux-vols-paris

Another interesting interview of the GM of BOD airport, in which you can read that the airport and some local companies/offices want absolutely to keep the BOD-ORY route.
https://www.20minutes.fr/economie/27...cteur-aeroport
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Old May 31, 20, 4:07 am
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Originally Posted by adambrau View Post
Sorry not sure what you mean about your tectonic changes so apologies if I don't get your humor. It's not a joke what is happening in America. Apart from COVID we have a major number of outbreaks that are related to never-ending racial violence. I would hope all people posting here would want to get France back in the air.

PS I take the subway from Manhattan to work at AF JFK. Let people make their own decisions. Please don't force the people who make your flights happen think you are a douche bag.
For a second I was thinking to just ignore your post, but since you've always been a passionate, friendly and extremely helpful poster I thought I'd just respond to dispel any misunderstandings: "tectonic" means, in its figurative sense, "of great magnitude" (the scientific meaning is different, it comes from the tectonic plates on which the continents rest, and they sometimes move, creating earthquakes. But Wiki will be a better source to explain that). In the light of the magnitude, scale and significance of what will happen to HOP the word tectonic is not meant to be funny or humorous, it just alludes to exactly that magnitude of change.

The part that confused me in your post is the relation with America. We all see and hear what is going on there, and it's tragic and shocking. But what does that have to do with whether a regional airline in Europe will fly from some small provincial backyard to Paris or to Lyon? Whether or not they do will have no impact on racial tensions in the US.

Also I don't see the point about you taking the subway from Manhattan to JFK and you making the AF flights happen. When you posted about this some days/weeks ago we were all extremely appreciative about your commitment and the perspectives you shared on the forum, and the COVID context in NY indeed made it appear a bit heroic. But again, what does that have to do with HOP taking the ATRs out of the fleet?

All of us here want to fly again and want AF to fly again. So I am a little puzzled why I'd be thought of as a douche bag only because I shared some media news relating that the company thinks about restructuring its domestic network.

Let's maybe keep the various topics apart, that way nobody will feel offended.

Have a great weekend, and thanks for all your contributions to this forum, it's fantastic to have an insider like you contributing here.
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