BA complains to Brussels over French restrictions at Orly

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The Independent Online
BRITISH AIRWAYS has complained to the European Commission over French restrictions on access to Orly airport near Paris, writes Mary Fagan.

Sir Colin Marshall, chairman, also renewed his complaint against proposed subsidies of pounds 2.3bn for Air France during talks in Brussels yesterday with the Transport Commissioner, Marcelino Oreja.

The row over Orly comes only weeks after the French government was forced by the Commission to open the airport to foreign airlines. However, they are limited to four return flights a day. The French also plan to limit access to Orly to aircraft with more than 200 seats from summer 1995. BA and its French affiliate, TAT, feel that the restrictions amount to discrimination.

A spokeswoman for the Commission said the complaint would be analysed at the beginning of September, when the Commission resumes work after the summer break. The Commission is also considering submissions from a range of airlines on the Air France subsidies and is expected to report within weeks.

Earlier this month, BA called for the Air France aid to be banned on the grounds that it will distort competition. BA said that Air France could solve its financial problems by selling its stakes in about 20 other airlines.

BA also believes that the restructuring plans put forward by Air France will not be enough to make the airline profitable. The British carrier is concerned that the subsidies will succeed only in allowing an inefficient airline to increase its capacity at the expense of more competitive airlines in an industry already plagued by over- capacity.