Ryanair set to open two French hubs in Marseille and Bordeaux

Ryanair plans to open two new hubs in Marseille and Bordeaux as part of a wider plan to double its traffic in France over the next "three or four years", the company has announced. The move will see 17 new routes open from Bordeaux.

Ryanair set to open two French hubs in Marseille and Bordeaux
Photo: AFP
The move represents a return of the hub at Marseille which closed in 2011 and a completely new hub in Bordeaux. 
The two bases are set to open by the summer of 2019 which will allow the airline to schedule more flights and improve its timetables, particularly for early morning flights, according to company chiefs. 
And as part of this growth, the airline will be offering 16 new routes from Bordeaux.
These will be to Bari in Italy, Cologne Bonn in Germany, Copenhagen in Denmark, Dublin in Ireland, Fez in Morocco, Krakow in Poland and Manchester in England. 
On top of that, there will be new routes to Marrakech in Morocco, Marseille, Mykonos in Greece, Nantes, Naples in Italy, Ouarzazate in Morocco,Tangiers in Morocco, Valence and Venice Treviso in Italy.
In total, there will 24 Ryanair services operating out of Bordeaux from the summer of 2019.
Similarly, there will be 11 new services from Marseille. 
That means passengers will be able to fly to Agadir in Morocco, Alicante in Spain, Bologna in Italy, Bordeaux, Bucharest in Romania, Budapest in Hungary, Manchester, Naples, Ouarzazate in Morocco, Prague in the Czech Republic and Warsaw in Poland. 
The move is all part of a wider plan to double passenger numbers in France over the next “three or four years” which was announced in January, with the two new hubs representing an investment of $400 million and the creation of 120 jobs. 
The company's commercial director David O'Brien said in January that the decision to open bases in France is motivated by “a more favorable economic environment in France” due to the country's new government. 
However they could face some opposition over the contracts they are planning to offer their employees. 
In January, the company announced that it would hire its employees under an Irish contract which is a sore spot for the unions carrying out strikes across Europe in a bid to get staff contracts from their own countries. 
The company also announced in January that it would be opening four new hubs in France however so far no announcements have been made about where the final two would be located. 
However Ryanair previously said Paris Beauvais (where Ryanair flights account for 80 percent of the traffic), Nantes, Toulouse and Lyon were all possible contenders. 

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Ryanair demands that Air France give up French airport slots in exchange for state aid

Budget airline Ryanair urged on Wednesday that Air France be forced to give up lucrative French airport slots if it receives more state aid.

Ryanair demands that Air France give up French airport slots in exchange for state aid
Could Air France be forced to give up airport slots if it accepts more aid from the French state? Photo: AFP

Paris is in talks with European Union officials on the delicate issue of state aid to the French flagship carrier, which has already received substantial help from the government.

“Should yet another enormous and illegal state aid bailout occur, then effective remedies must be applied to ensure fair competition in the French market and to protect the interests of the French consumer / visitor,” a Ryanair statement said.

The low-cost airline is based in Ireland and regularly underscores the amount of money being allocated to keep struggling rivals in the air.

In exchange for more aid, Air France must be prepared to give up “a substantial number of its take-off and landing slots at key French airports including Paris Charles De Gaulle, Paris Orly and Lyon,” Ryanair argued.

French officials and the European Commission are currently discussing the terms of a further recapitalisation of the Air France-KLM group, which has suffered from the Covid-19 crisis.

EU officials have already indicated that in exchange for their approval, Air France should give up coveted slots at Paris' Orly airport, which is essentially saturated now.

Air France on the other hand has indicated that such a move posed a serious threat because it was counting on Orly operations to help it rebound from the crisis.

French officials want to avoid putting Air France, which was struggling even before the pandemic, at a competitive disadvantage.

Ryanair urged EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager to “stand firm in her discussions with the French government.

“Either Air France gets no state aid or proper remedies should be put in place to ensure a fair and level playing field for all airlines,” it insisted.