Air France plans 54 budget routes

Air France wants to win back four million passengers from budget airlines

Thirteen Marseille routes will be the first to start in October, as airline targets low-cost rivals

AIR FRANCE has confirmed plans to launch 54 budget routes from regional airports in France.

Marseille will be the first base for the new operation, which aims to win back four million passengers a year from the budget airlines.

Thirteen new Marseille routes will launch in October: Biarritz, Brest, Athens, Copenhagen, Milan, Basel, Eindhoven, Prague, Dusseldorf, Moscow, Beirut, Istanbul and Casablanca.

Prices will start at €50 one way. Other existing routes, such as Marseille-Lille and Marseille-Alger will start at €80.

Cost savings will be achieved by increasing productivity - pilots will fly for about 700 hours a year, instead of 550 to 600 at present. They will be awarded a 12% pay rise and given the opportunity to concentrate their shifts over a two-week period in each month.

Air France chief executive Pierre-Henri Gourgeon told Le Figaro: "We cannot effectively organise our flights out of Marseille - especially in the morning - when all the staff start work in Paris. We will therefore base some of them at Marseille.

"We will maintain the Air France level of service: newspapers, allocated seating, free food and air miles."

Further bases are planned for Nice, Bordeaux and Toulouse next year, and new destinations will include Pau, Angoulême and Reus on the east coast of Spain.

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