Air France-KLM chief urges Europe to restrict Gulf carriers

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Jean-Cyril Spinetta said it would be “suicide” for EU member airlines if restrictions on Gulf airlines flying into European airspace were removed

Jean-Cyril Spinetta said it would be “suicide” for EU member airlines if restrictions on Gulf airlines flying into European airspace were removed

The chief of Air France-KLM has urged European governments to curb access to markets for Gulf carriers unless they demonstrate that they are competing on a level playing field with their EU rivals.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Jean-Cyril Spinetta said it would be “suicide” for EU member airlines if restrictions on Gulf airlines flying into European airspace were removed unless it is accompanied by assurances about fair competition.

“If you compete with [Gulf carriers] in an open sky situation, it’s sort of suicide. It means European air will disappear,” the chairman and chief executive of Air France-KLM said.

Gulf airlines, including Etihad, Dubai’s Emirates and Qatar Airways, are rapidly expanding their fleet providing European airlines with stiff competition on long haul routes. The government-owned airlines are regularly criticised by rival European carriers who claim government subsidies and access to cheap financing have allowed them to expand quickly.

While Gulf carriers have strongly denied receiving government subsidies, Spinetta - whose airline signed a codeshare agreement with Etihad last year - said Emirates benefits from lower airport user fees at its Dubai hub compared to Air France in Paris.

He also claimed that Gulf airlines may be able to tap cheaper finance their European rivals because they are state-controlled.

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Posted by: Gilles06

In Nice, French Riviera, we have Emirates wich operates a daily flight on B777 and it's good for this airport. Air France prefering concentrate all it's long haul flight at Paris CDG, doesn't believe in intercontinental flights from Nice.

Qatar Airways is also present but it?s only operating 3 flights per week with a stopover in Milan, a good thing. Meanwhile it will discontinue its flight after May 31st 2013 while it was having successful results, but traffic rights to operate Nice Doha daily nonstop flight were refused by the French Directorate General for Civil Aviation, I believe that Air France and Paris Airports Authority are behind this decision. Both fears that a nonstop flight Nice-Doha on Qatar Airways in addition to the Nice Dubai on Emirates, would become so successful that Air France and it's Paris "Hub" would be the big loser because less people from Nice want's to transfer to Paris CDG to go to Asia.

Air France does the same as what it complains from Gulf carriers.

Posted by: steve

You might read his statements as complaining but really he is saying that if the European governments don't control GCC airlines access to landing rights, it will force many European carriers into questionable status. EU governments should protect carriers with home bases in the EU. Governments control the landing rights so it must be a level playing field for all carriers. I don't for a second believe Luft and Emirates have the same operating costs. Just compare labour regulations between Germany and UAE. As passengers, we should never want any carrier to have majority control so they can dictate price or move aside competition. We need even access as passengers so we can have fair pricing for travel. That should be our concern.

Posted by: Bharat Jashanmal

A significant number of passengers that use Emirates and the other Gulf carriers from Europe and the UK use these carriers because of their extensive network into India, China, South East Asia and Australia, destinations that European carriers shunned, and last but by no means least, the level and quality of service that Gulf carriers offer is far superior to that offered by most European carriers, in particular incidentally by Air France, a carrier that I avoid at all costs!

Posted by: Hiren Shahani

What is AF/KLM complaining about, they did go ahead with a strategic tie up with Etihad Airways on the Amsterdam Abu Dhabi Amsterdam route and have placed their flight numbers on the Etihad Airways new flights to Amsterdam effective 1st May 13

Posted by: Ferdi

Dear AF_KLM cheif, Let EU governments also to invest in AirLine industry without blaiming Gulf Carriers.
Gulf carriers pay high salaries compare to most of the EU airlines & they still make handsome profit too, that is mainly due to strict control of admin, procedures 7 good QA/QC, in which EU airlines are very poor or lagging. Correct yr self and face the real conpetrition rather than dirty tactics

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