TGV 'unfair competition' says airline chief

29th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

CANNES, France, Oct 29 (AFP) - Air France-KLM chief executive Jean-Cyril Spinetta called Friday for a European debate on high-speed trains, claiming they competed unfairly with airlines.

CANNES, France, Oct 29 (AFP) - Air France-KLM chief executive Jean-Cyril Spinetta called Friday for a European debate on high-speed trains, claiming they competed unfairly with airlines.

"I think that, regarding the TGV (France's high-speed train), it is time to open a fundamental European debate," Spinetta told the Cannes Airlines Forum being held in this French Riviera city.

"I believe the debate should be held now," he added. "It's long past due."

"I am calling, in my own name, on regulators to show us the reasons why two competing modes of transport ... can be subjected to fundamentally different sets of rules."

"One says everything must be paid without subsidies and the other says that, almost by their nature, (trains) must be subsidised."

Spinetta heads a carrier that benefited from a controversial government rescue in 1994 and which has been accused by British low-cost airline easyJet of throwing up barriers to effective competition in the French network.

On Friday, he slammed European talks on developing a high-speed train network, saying some officials believed airlines could manage long-haul routes while trains took care of short- and medium-distance transport.

"I think this is an illusion and I think it's a serious strategic error for which Europe will pay dearly," Spinetta said.

As far as transports were concerned, "the only instrument of European civil and economic integration is the plane."

© AFP

Subject: French News

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