Will the new Céleste airline be part of the solutions that will emerge in the Breton sky to maintain the accessibility and attractiveness of the tip of Finistère? Founded a year ago in Morlaix by Bruno Besnehard and Arnaud de Noray, in order to facilitate interregional mobility and develop medium-haul flights, It is a candidate, like the Normande Chalair company, for the resumption of the Brest-Paris-Orly line from January 2023, which Air France plans to stop.
The air sector in Brittany is notably suspended at the end that will be found to guarantee a sustainable airline between the tip of Finistère and Paris-Orly. Discussed with the State, this dossier is closely followed by the regional authorities and Breton elected officials. Air France announced in early September the suspension of flights operated by its subsidiary Transavia from October 30, due to the low occupancy rate of the aircraft.
Provoking a barrage of greenwood, the company backed down and extended their relationship by five months. The issue is all the more sensitive since before the Covid crisis, the Brest-Orly link made Brest one of the most dynamic airports (1.1 million passengers). In 2021 at the end of the crisis, its assistance had resumed the path of progression (+42%) with 654,900 passengers.
Transavia criticized for its service and schedules
To get Céleste off the ground, the Brest ecosystem is mobilizing. The CCIMBO, the Medef, Cpme29, the UIMM Finistère and BTP Finistère have launched a subscription of 3 million euros with companies in the area. This is the amount necessary for the registration of this company before the aeronautical administrative authorities.
The outcome of this approach is not yet known, but if it is successful, Céleste has planned to base two aircraft at Brest, CRJ 1000 with around 100 seats. Its goal: to allow “departs early in the morning and returns in the afternoon to Paris-Orly, as well as during the day to regional and European destinations explains the company. In a second step, it also plans to base a third CRJ 1000 on the Rennes track.
While talks continue with the management of Air France and the Delegate Minister for Transport, Clément Beaune, the question of the survival of a line between Brest and Paris collides with that of the opening of Brittany, the air service and the high-speed line . The five-month period should make it possible to find an alternative, including with other airlines.
Razor in the Accessibility Pact
” The arguments used by the company to stop this historical link are mostly debatable or unfounded, being the poor quality of the service provided by the Air France subsidiary Transavia inadequate to the demand in terms of schedules. ” sustains Michaël Quernez, vice-president (PS) of the Brittany Regional Council, in charge of climate and mobility.
According to Breton elected officials, Air France’s unilateral decision ” deprive economic agents of the only mobility solution to go to and from Paris during the day (Brest-Orly/Orly-Brest), in a context in which the alternative rail offer is not yet efficient enough. »
Above all, they believe that it goes against the Brittany Accessibility and Mobility Pact, signed in February 2019 by the President of the Government and the Region. This pact established that Brest airport has ” a fundamental role in the accessibility of North Finistère and beyond towards Cornouaille and Trégor “. By TGV, Brest remains for the time being at 3:40.
Regional strategy put to the test by falling attendance
Brest is not the only airport from which Air France disconnects on the link with Paris or other cities. This is also the case in Lorient, where the company ceased its connections with Lyon and Roissy in the spring of 2021, and even in Rennes, where it stopped serving Nice, a connection previously operated by Hop, in favor of Easyjet. In Lorient, the Edeis company took over the management of the civil airport in January 2022, but commercial flights are rarer. However, the operator has a target of 114,000 passengers in 2026.
The post-Covid period leaves uncertainties about the ability of Breton airports to straighten the handle, while with teleworking, passengers have adopted new habits. ” does not resume concedes Michaël Quernez.
” In general, the air is at 80% of its pre-Covid activity, in Brittany we are close to 60%. The results are clearly not up to par. The Region, owner of the Brest, Rennes-Saint-Jacques, Dinard-Pleurtuit and Quimper airports, will decide its strategy Rennes airport (possible extension), Dinard, Brest and Quimper in June 2023. In December 2023, we will adopt the one relating to the offer of the eight platforms, with Saint-Brieuc and Lannion says the chosen one.
The Regional Council, which will also prepare a global evaluation of its mobility, does not rule out, therefore, the non-renewal of the public service delegation (DSP) for Quimper airport: the link with Paris-Orly, operated by the company Chalair and defended by the CCIMBO Quimper, attracts less than 8,000 passengers a year.
The Region is also looking for solutions (electric or business aviation, low-cost lines, training and maintenance, etc.) to maintain the activity of sites such as Morlaix, after the takeover of Hop! training by New Business Resources, and Dinard, oriented to the training and maintenance of pilots. ” Eight platforms in Brittany make complementarity and diversification possible. We are also considering the development of photovoltaic energy in some of our airports, where industrial land is also available. adds Michaël Quernez.
The question of the cost, economic development and attractiveness of the small Breton airports had already been addressed in 2020 in a report by the Court of Auditors: too many, too dependent on public aid, with the exception of Rennes and Brest. The body recommended reconfiguring Brittany’s air transport policy. Here we are: the Covid-19 crisis has accelerated the pace.
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