Europe Supports BA Call for Paris Airport Access
Lambert, Sarah, The Independent (London, England)
THE EUROPEAN Commission yesterday ordered France to open up its domestic air routes following a complaint from TAT, part of British Airways. BA responded by announcing four new daily return flights from Paris Orly to London Heathrow from June, although the French transport ministry said it would contest the ruling.
The commission's decision overturned a French government ruling last year that foreign-owned airlines serving Paris could only use Paris Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport, and not Paris Orly.
BA has a 49 per cent stake in the French airline TAT, which complained to the commission in September that France was discriminating against it in the French internal market and on Paris-London routes.
Air France had a monopoly on the Orly-Nice, Roissy-Marseilles and Roissy-Toulouse routes through its Air Inter subsidiary, and on the lucrative Orly-Heathrow link.
The commission decided yesterday that France had fallen foul of its "open skies" airline deregulation policy. As a sign of goodwill the transport commissioner, Abel Matutes, suggested the company be given six months to open the Orly- Toulouse and Orly-Marseille routes but ruled that Orly-London must be opened immediately.
The French transport ministry said: "The government does not intend to allow a unilateral and legally contestable decision to be imposed and will without delay ask the European Court of Justice to rule on the principle and procedure chosen in this affair."
The decision gives BA a valuable foothold in the Orly hub that serves the French domestic market. …