A report in Euronews
yesterday confirms Air France is considering starting its own
low-cost airline to be based in Paris.
The proposed carrier, tentatively dubbed Air France Soleil,
would grow as an expansion from KLM-owned Transavia. Transavia
offers scheduled and charter service mainly out of the
Soleil would face stiff competition out of the gate from
established low-cost rivals easyJet, Ryanair and Air Berlin. That
triad has already knocked several upstarts out of the segment.
Ryanair, perhaps the most successful of Europe's budget
carriers, boasted 39 million passengers the first three quarters of
this year. With those kind of numbers it's easy to see why Air
France is eager to get its foot in the door.
Ryanair made a recent bid to purchase Aer Lingus and break into
the long-haul segment of the industry. So far, that bid has met
with a great deal of resistance from Aer Lingus, the Irish
government and opponents within the EU.
Some question Air France's decision to offer a low-cost service
domestically since it would compete directly with the country's
high-speed train system -- the TVG. That system already allows
travelers to get from Paris to Marseilles on the south coast in
around three hours. The train network serves 250,000 customers
daily in France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
The Euronews report says the Air France-KLM board meets next
week to discuss the proposal.