Growth in seat numbers in France has been sluggish over the past decade by comparison with European and global rates.
Air France-KLM has barely grown at all, increasing annual capacity in France in 10 years by the percentage that global aviation typically grows in one year. Its Transavia LCC subsidiary has grown faster, but competitor LCCs – led by easyJet – have driven most of the growth in France. In addition, three low cost long haul operators (Norwegian, WestJet and LEVEL) compete in France.
Outside Air France-KLM, local airlines in France are small, but market dynamics are changing. Two French airlines – Aigle Azur and XL Airways France – have recently gone bankrupt.
These sad events may ease the growth ambitions for two other French airlines Corsair and French Bee, which have long haul expansion plans (including Paris-New York launches from both next summer). Corsair's growth plans have been renewed following its sale by TUI to Intro Aviation.
At the same time Air Corsica, the biggest French airline by seats that is not part of Air France-KLM, continues to operate its domestic-focused network.
Just as Air France looks for a path to improved profitability, competition could be intensifying.