Strike blocks open skies flight path
Ready for take off? Some French aircraft may be grounded but the great EU monetary-union Jumbo is trundling down the runway
Wednesday 02 April 1997
From this month any airline in the European Union can, in theory, offer flights between any two EU airports, including two cities in another country. France, which has the biggest single domestic air market, is the most lucrative potential target for other European carriers. British Airways has already muscled in. Lufthansa is said to be considering a network of French domestic flights, linked to global flights from its Frankfurt hub.
The stoppage by ground staff at Air Inter Europe yesterday were a protestagainst this long-promised brave new world of cheaper and more plentiful European air-travel. The French government has ordained the gradual merger of the two loss-making, state-controlled air lines - Air France, for external flights, and Air Inter, for internal flights - specifically to face up to the increased competition.
The 11,000 staff at Air Inter, which now becomes Air France Europe, fear jobs will be lost and privileges eroded. The international carrier, with 46,000 staff, is engaged in its own programme of restructuring. Air Inter pilots, who fear their promotion will be frozen, began a series of strikes last week. Yesterday was the turn of the ground crews. Shuttle flights from Paris Orly to Marseilles, Nice and Toulouse were maintained. Other flights were cancelled. Further stoppages are expected next weekend.
This was an inauspicious beginning to the era of Open Skies: but all is not quite as it seems. Air industry experts believe the French government has taken advantage of the open market policy to push through a rationalisation of the publicly-owned French airlines. Yesterday's deadline was more symbolic than real. Many countries, including France, have already introduced the more relaxed regulations legislated in Brussels two years ago. There has already been some impact on the number and price of flights within the EU. Ticket prices have fallen by about 10 per cent in the last three years and are expected to continue to fall.
But there remains a wide gap between the theory of free competition and the reality. Potential competitors find their wings clipped by the shortage of landing and taking-off slots at the biggest European airports. On the other hand, there is a genuine problem with overcrowding at the main Paris airport, Charles de Gaulle-Roissy and last week the French government announced plans to build two new runways at the airport in the next three years.
- 2 Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
- 3 Andy Murray takes to Twitter to show off his Christmas jumper
- 5 Top 10 travel destinations for 2015: From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
Dublin court rules brain-dead pregnant mother's life support can be switched off
Margaret Thatcher 'expressed fears of Asian rising' at Anglo-Irish summit in 1984
The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...