Air France holds Geneva airport to account

No-frills airlines like easyJet would use this old terminal in Geneva to cut costs Keystone

French national carrier Air France is to ask Switzerland’s competition watchdog if no-frills airline easyJet is getting unfair advantages at Geneva airport.

This content was published on January 21, 2005 - 18:00

The airport is set to reopen an old terminal for the exclusive use of low-budget airlines, especially easyJet, allowing them to slash passenger taxes.

Air France, which made the announcement on Friday, says the project would make traditional carriers uncompetitive. Other companies have also voiced their opposition to the plan.

The French airline is determined to stop easyJet getting its terminal despite an earlier decision in September by the Federal Competition Commission to let the project go ahead.

Dominant position

But Air France says that the competition watchdog only heard submissions from the airport’s management and was not advised of opposition to the revamped terminal.

At that point, the commission only considered whether state aid was being put into the project and whether it was illegal. Having ruled this was not the case, it gave the go-ahead to the airport.

Air France is expected to ask the commission to consider whether easyJet is abusing its dominant position in Geneva. The British company accounts for a quarter of all flights out of the city, versus just 7.6 per cent for the French carrier.

But the chances of French success seem slim. A commission spokesman warned that the watchdog would take into account its earlier ruling that competition between airlines was fair.

No complaints

A Geneva court also ruled against Air France late last year, saying that there was no reason to stop the project going ahead.

The airport’s management is confident that the French company’s latest attempt to block the low-cost terminal will fail. Spokesman Philippe Roy said none of the official bodies that had reviewed the project had found fault with it.

Plans for the renovation of the terminal building have been drawn up. The airport is waiting for the transport ministry’s official go-ahead to begin work, with the aim of opening the terminal in the summer of 2006.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Air France accounts for 500,000 passengers at Geneva airport, and 7.6 per cent of flights.
EasyJet handles 25 per cent of flights in and out of Geneva.
Last year, more than 8.5 million passengers used Geneva airport, over six per cent more than in 2003.

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In brief

Geneva plans to modify the oldest of its two terminals for the exclusive use of no-frills airlines.

The aim is to offer lower passenger taxes for companies such as easyJet.

Traditional carriers such as Air France says this would give low-cost airlines an unfair advantage.

Geneva airport still hopes to begin operations in the terminal by the summer of 2006.

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In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

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