Wizz Air’s CEO Wants The Return Of Airport Slot Rules

Wizz Air CEO Jozsef Varadi has condemned Air France CEO’s comments about the use-it-or-lose-it slot rules. Ben Smith…

Wizz Air’s CEO Wants The Return Of Airport Slot Rules

Wizz Air CEO Jozsef Varadi has condemned Air France CEO’s comments about the use-it-or-lose-it slot rules. Ben Smith of Air France stated the suspension of slots rules should continue while airlines recover. However, Varadi has said it’s time for the rule to return. Some airlines are pushing to have the rule suspended until the end of this year.

Wizz Air’s CEO thinks it’s time to reinstate the airports use-it-or-lose-it slots rule. Photo: Budapest Airport

As the global pandemic hit last year, one of the first major decisions to help airlines was the suspension of traditional airport slots rules. Commonly referred to as the use-it-or-lose-it rule, airlines were forced to use 80% of take-off and landing slots on a specific route or would be forced to give it up to competition who could make use of the slots.

With the global downturn, the suspension of this crucial rule meant airlines could operate flights when possible rather than operating empty aircraft. Suspending the rule certainly made sense at the time. However, there is now disagreement about when the rule should be reinstated.

The rule might benefit some airlines above others

As reported by Reuters, Air France CEO Ben Smith and Wizz Air CEO Jozsef Varadi both spoke at a panel at the Paris Air Forum today, and they had very different views on the situation. Smith said the lower threshold for the rule was “logical” and said, “We don’t see our industry in a position yet to put that in place.”  

Suspending the airport’s slots rules benefitted all airlines. However, reinstating it might give an unfair advantage to some. Photo: Frankfurt Airport

But Varadi disagreed. He said that the continued suspension of plot rules unfairly benefitted state-owned airlines or airlines receiving government bailout money. Varadi went on to say that governments were “protecting that investment” made in airlines but not reinstating the slots rules. The French government recently increased its stake in Air France-KLM to 28.6%.

It easy to see both perspectives in this situation. As European borders open and short-haul makes a much faster recovery than long-haul, low-cost, short-haul airlines will want to see a return to pre-pandemic aviation. However, for airlines like Air France-KLM, the suspension of the use-it-or-lose-it rules continues to make sense.

Inconsistent recovery poses a problem

As more airlines worldwide look to recover, it is going to be hard to implement global standards. The difference in demand between domestic and international flights and between long-haul and short-haul operations make it challenging to implement standardized rules that will fairly apply to all airlines.

Air France’s CEO thinks the slots rule should remain suspended or risk damaging recovery. Photo: Air France

Another potential difference in recovery rates was pointed out by Smith. Smith highlighted that budget airlines are better positioned to utilize foreign crew on cheaper contracts. This would aid a faster recovery at a lower cost.

As traffic returns throughout the summer season, the slots rule may have a big impact on airlines’ operations. Keeping the rule suspended benefits the major carrier who have yet to see enough demand. This puts carriers on the road to recover, looking to expand at a disadvantage. But in contrast, reinstating the rule could play havoc on already struggling carriers.

What do you think? Should the slots rule be reinstated now? We’d love to hear what you think, so let us know in the comments.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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How Air France Was Founded By Merging 5 Smaller Airlines

Air France has been a globally recognized airline for more than eighty years, carrying the flag of its…

How Air France Was Founded By Merging 5 Smaller Airlines

Air France has been a globally recognized airline for more than eighty years, carrying the flag of its home country to all corners of the globe. But its formation in 1933 was born out of a merger involving some much older French airlines. Here’s how Air France was founded.

Air France has been around for more than 80 years, but its history goes back even further. Photo: afvintage via Flickr

France’s first airline

The first airline company in France was formed in 1909 and was called the Compagnie Générale Transaérienne (CGT). Flying airships in France and Switzerland as well as floatplanes for flights from Paris to London, it was the first private company in the world to operate an airplane service.

In April 1911, the airline flew a Bleriot monoplane with a 50 horsepower Gnome engine from Issy-les-Moulineaux in Paris to Hendon in London. The flight took three hours and 56 minutes and was the first non-stop air service between the cities. CGT began regular flights between the capitals after that, mainly carrying mail and other small items.

Blériot monoplane
The first Paris to London flight used a monoplane like this. Photo: Julian Herzog via Wikimedia

Two years later, CGT began the first scheduled passenger services, operating an Astra CM Hydro-avion between Cannes and Nice. It could only carry two passengers on board, but proved to be a success, with the company adding Monte Carlo to the network later on. However, the outbreak of World War I proved to bring new challenges to this pioneering airline.

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After the war ended, there was a glut of aircraft and pilots available for work. Aviation really started to blossom, and competition increased. CGT found itself being rivaled on its flagship London – Paris route by several other air carriers, in particular the Compagnie des Messageries Aériennes (CMA). In 1921, CMA absorbed CGT so that it could add mail to its air services.

Compagnie des Messageries Aériennes
CGT was absorbed into Compagnie des Messageries Aériennes. Photo: afvintage via Flickr

But the mergers were not done yet, not by a long shot. 1919 also saw the formation of Grands Express Aériens, another Parisian airline. It flew Farman F-60 Goliath aircraft, a converted bomber with a luxury cabin. It primarily operated to London’s Croydon Aerodrome, as well as to Lausanne and Geneva. In 1923, it too merged with CMA to form Air Union.

Air Union at Croyden in 1927. Photo: afvintage via Flickr

Elsewhere in France, other airlines were springing up too. The French colonies in Africa and South America were ripe for connection, and Compagnie générale d’entreprises aéronautiques (CGEA) was set up to do just that. Serving Barcelona from Toulouse from 1918, the airline expanded its services to Casablanca and then to Dakar.

1927 saw 93% of the company sold to a French businessman in Brazil – Marcel Bouilloux-Lafont – who renamed it the Compagnie générale aéropostale, better known by the shorter name Aéropostale. It began flying to Rio de Janeiro, Natal, Paraguay and eventually to Santiago. Its services were primarily moving post, but people often traveled along too.

Aeropostale began as a mail airline, but moved into passenger services too. Photo: Getty Images

To the southwest of Paris, in the small town of Toussus-le-Noble, the Société Générale des Transports Aériens (SGTA) was founded in 1919. It too flew to the Croydon Aerodrome in the UK, as well as to Brussels, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Berlin and even as far as Scandinavia and Russia.

Also launched after World War I was Compagnie franco-roumaine de navigation aérienne, a Franco-Romanian airline using French built Potez aircraft. It was the first transcontinental airline in the world, transporting passengers, mail and cargo from Paris to Bucharest in 1920. It also undertook the first passenger international night flight in 1923, between Belgrade and Bucharest.

A poster advertising the long routes of Compagnie Franco Roumaine de navigation aérienne. Image: Affiche Compagnie Franco Roumaine de navigation aérienne via Wikimedia

The final piece in the Air France puzzle was Air Orient. This, in itself, was an airline created by mergers. Air Asie and Air Union Lignes d’Orient merged to form Air Orient in 1929, flying to the Middle East and Far East French colonial outposts. But the biggest merger of all was yet to come.

Air Orient seaplane
An Air Orient seaplane. Photo: Getty Images

Air France is born

The early 1930s saw a financial crisis that inevitably had an impact on aviation. France’s Minister of Aviation, Pierre Cot, spearheaded a reformation of the French air transport industry, which ultimately kickstarted the formation of Air France.

The Air France inauguration ceremony in Le Bourget, Paris, 1933. Photo: afvintage via Flickr

On , 1933, five airlines joined together to form what we now know as Air France. Air Orient, Air Union, Compagnie Générale Aéropostale, Compagnie Internationale de Navigation Aérienne (CIDNA), and Société Générale de Transport Aérien (SGTA) merged together, and Air France was born.

Between the five airlines, they had already built an impressive level of networks not just around Europe, but also to the overseas French colonies and other parts of the world. But they also had a large and very mixed fleet, consisting of 259 aircraft of 31 different types.

Air France moved into the offices of Air Orient at rue Marbeuf and adopted the winged seahorse logo of the same airline. Its executives worked hard to streamline the network and simplify the fleet, which was done using just French aircraft. By 1938, Air France had 100 aircraft and the world’s third-largest network. The rest, as they say, is history.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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