French LCC Transavia Expansion Finally Given Green Light

Following a year-long resistance by France’s powerful pilots union the SNPL, an agreement has now been reached giving French LCC Transavia the green light for expansion.

Transavia 737
Transavia wants to be able to expand so that it can compete with Ryanair and easyJet. Photo: Transavia

The French arm of Air France-KLM low-cost airline had been blocked by the powerful pilots union not to grow beyond 40 aircraft. This followed a strike by union members in 2014 against the company’s plans to expand its fleet to 100 aircraft by 2017.

Transavia want to expand so that it can compete with other LCC’s

Transavia was looking to expand so that it could compete with the likes of easyJet and Ryanair.

Since becoming Air France-KLM CEO, former Air Canada chief Ben Smith has been looking at ways to get Air France and its unions to change their ways. The following video about the new deal is in French.

Re-launching the talks on the Transavia 40-plane cap with the SNPL and holding a referendum with its members resulted in 78% of voters in favor of scrapping the old cap.

The Air France-KLM Group is the only one of the three big European airline groups that do not have a dedicated low-cost carrier. IAG, which owns British Airways and Iberia, has two low-cost-carriers in Vueling and Level. Lufthansa Group meanwhile, has the German national flag carrier, Swiss, Austrian Airlines and its LCC in Eurowings.

Together Transavia France and Transavia Holland operate 79 Boeing 737-800 and 737-700 aircraft, of which 38 planes are flown by Transavia France.

In a short statement released by Air France-KLM Wednesday the Franco-Dutch group said:

“Transavia France will be able to grow in economically balanced conditions and without any restrictions on the number of aircraft for the Air France group. The company will be able to accelerate its offensive in the highly competitive low-cost market, departing from Orly and regional French stations.”

Transavia will not be able to fly out of Paris-Charles de Gaulle

Currently, Transavia France operates mainly out of Paris-Orly Airport and has regional bases in Lyon and Nantes.

Transavia jet

Transavia will not be allowed to fly transatlantic routes. Photo: Transavia

While the new agreement between Air France-KLM and the union will allow the cap on aircraft to be removed, it also stipulates that Transavia will not harm Air France’s mainline operations.

The SNPL Air France vice president Guillaume Schmid told Aviation International News that under the new agreement Transavia will not be able to operate flights out of Paris-Charles de Gaulle. The low-cost carrier is also barred from transatlantic routes and operating any flights using wide-body aircraft.

Any future flights not already in Transavia’s network cannot be domestic internal flights or any flights with a distance of more than 3,000 nautical miles.

“We want to make sure that flights aboard new generation single-aisle aircraft, such as the Airbus A321XLR that can serve the U.S. East Coast from France, are reserved for Air France, Schmid explained.

Transavia’s expansion will include Boeing 737-800s

Schmid also pointed out that SNPL and the airline’s management had discussed fleet growth saying,

“For the next four year’s expansion will be with 737-800s”

Transavia 737-800

Transavia expansion will only include Boeing aircraft. Photo: WikimediaHe did, however, bring up the MAX, saying that,

“The Boeing 737 MAX is the natural extension to the 737NG fleet, but we’ll have to wait and see how this situation evolves. Even if the MAX is re-certified soon and allowed to fly, there are no MAX aircraft available in the next four years.”

The formal agreement between the Air France KLM group and the SNPL still needs to be signed before it can go into effect.