Air France to launch low-cost airline by June

28th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 27, 2006 (AFP) - A new low-cost tourist airline being created by Air France-KLM will launch by next June and will compete with budget carriers flying to dozens of Mediterranean destinations, the company said Monday.

PARIS, Nov 27, 2006 (AFP) - A new low-cost tourist airline being created by Air France-KLM will launch by next June and will compete with budget carriers flying to dozens of Mediterranean destinations, the company said Monday.

The new carrier, named Transavia.com France, will initially offer 67 weekly flights from Paris to 10 destinations and will add five more by the end of the year, Air France added.

The main countries served will be Morocco, Tunisia, Spain, Italy and Egypt.

Passengers will be able to buy individual tickets on the internet, but the carrier will also cater to charter tourist operators.

The new airline would enable Air France to respond to the needs of travel operators such as Club Med as well as to compete with low-cost operators for popular destinations, Air France's commercial director Christian Boireau said.

In France, only eight million people travel by charter flight each year, while in Britain four times that number and in Germany three times that number use them, he said.

Transavia.com France will be 60-percent owned by Air France and 40-percent by Transavia, a Dutch-based company that is fully owned by KLM.

Based at Paris's Orly Sud airport, it should have annual sales of up to EUR 300 million by 2009, said Boireau.

It will begin service with four new-generation Boeing 737s and will increase its fleet to nine 737s by 2009, the company said without specifying if the planes were new purchases.

Sector analyst Penny Butcher at Morgan Stanley said last week that Air France-KLM sought to compete with carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet on flights to popular sunspots, noting that Ryanair was very interested in launching its own service to Morocco.

The low-cost Transavia carrier currently operates a combination of scheduled and charter flights, mainly from the Netherlands.

It posted net profit of EUR 32 million in the 2005-2006 fiscal year on sales of EUR 468 million.

German rival Lufthansa is already present in the budget sector with its Germanwings subsidiary that offers low-cost flights and the charter carrier Condor.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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