Air France Revamps Embattled Short-Haul Business ... Again

Air France said it plans another revamp of short-haul operations struggling to maintain market share amid a twin onslaught from discount carriers and high-speed trains.

Domestic and European flights operated by Air France at Paris Orly airport and a handful of provincial bases will be brought under the same umbrella as Hop!, an operator of smaller regional planes formed in an earlier restructuring in 2013.

Lionel Guerin, who runs Hop!, will lead Air France-KLM’s latest bid to stem the loss of customers to EasyJet Plc and Ryanair Plc, TGV expresses and road travel. One-way fares will start at 49 euros ($53), the company said today, without explaining how the move will achieve a reduction in costs.

Passengers won’t see any change in branding, with Airbus A320-series airliners based at Orly and cities including Toulouse and Lyon remaining in Air France colors and Hop!’s regional jets and turboprops retaining their own livery.

Short-haul flights to Paris’s main Charles de Gaulle airport that help feed Air France’s lucrative inter-continental services will remain outside the new division, as will the expanding Transavia discount arm.

The enlarged operation under Guerin will offer 600 flights daily to about 50 destinations using a fleet of 96 planes, serving around 13 million passengers annually, Air France said.

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