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EasyJet strike risk, short flight ban upheld: 10 France travel updates

We also look at this weekend’s TGV strikes, motorway toll increases, a Eurotunnel offer, why a Paris airport is being renamed (for a good reason) and more

We look at the stories affecting travel to, from and around France this week Pic: Grisha Bruev / Simone Previdi / Leonid Andronov / Julius Kielaitis / Shutterstock

We look at the stories affecting travel to, from and around France this week.

EasyJet cabin crew maintain Christmas strike threat 

Unions representing EasyJet cabin crew are continuing to threaten strike action over the Christmas period following a meeting yesterday with the company management which did not result in an agreement on pay, Reuters reports. 

The SNPNC and UNAC unions are calling for an 8% pay rise for air stewards and stewardesses to cover inflation and the rise in the cost of their top-up health insurance. 

Negotiations are set to continue until December 7. An official strike notice has not yet been issued.

This comes as Air France cabin crew are called to strike in the period between December 22 and January 2. 

They are calling for a temporary collective staff agreement to be signed to replace their original, which expired in October.

Read more: Air France, EasyJet, Ryanair: Christmas strike threats multiply

French motorway toll prices to increase by 4.75% 

The cost of French motorway tolls is set to rise by 4.75% on average in February, the transport ministry has announced.  

Toll rates are recalculated every year based on a formula taking inflation and the potential need for work on the road into account. They increased by 2% in 2022.

The transport ministry stated that the 4.75% figure is “markedly lower” than France’s October inflation rate of 6.33% over a year, which was calculated by national statistics institute Insee. 

Several motorway companies have taken steps to assist drivers with the rising cost. For example, the discount applied to vehicles making at least 10 return journeys in a month on the same route will increase from 30% to 40%.

Electric vehicles driving on the Sanef/SAPN and APRR/AREA networks will also benefit from a 5% discount.

60% of TGV services cancelled due to strike 

Up to 60% of TGV and Intercités services scheduled to run this weekend (December 2-4) have been cancelled because of an SNCF ticket inspector strike. 

The strike has been organised by rail unions Unsa-Ferroviaire, SUD-Rail, CFDT-Cheminots and FO-Cheminots.

Trains running along the Atlantic network are particularly affected, with one in every four TGV and Ouigo services running.

This strike is set to last until Sunday, and there have been reports that it could be renewed in the lead-up to Christmas.

A gradual return to normal is expected from Monday (December 5), when three in four TGV trains will be running as normal. 

Read more: Train strike recap: which trains are running this weekend in France? 

This comes as UK Eurostar security staff have been called to strike on December 16, 18, 22 and 23.

Read more: UK Eurostar security workers to strike in lead-up to Christmas

Paris-Charles de Gaulle to be temporarily renamed 

Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport is to adopt a new name for one week in order to help improve the travelling experience of people with disabilities. 

From tomorrow (December 3) – the International Day of Disabled Persons – the airport will be called Anne de Gaulle, after the daughter of the former French president, who had Down’s syndrome. 

The airport’s CEO Augustin de Romanet has said that he hopes to “promote action aiding the integration of people with neurological or psychological disabilities.” 

The week-long campaign will involve changes to the signs on the outside of the airport and to some airline announcements, so passengers should not be surprised if they hear that they are heading to Paris-Anne de Gaulle rather than Charles de Gaulle.

It will also give the airport an opportunity to improve the way in which it welcomes people with disabilities and work towards offering a more streamlined passage through the terminals.

Anne de Gaulle died in 1948, at the age of 20.

EU approves ban on short domestic flights in France

The European Commission has approved a section of France’s Loi Climat which will ban domestic flights in France when the journey can take less than two-and-a-half hours by train.

This will mean, for example, that flights between Paris-Orly and Nantes, Paris and Lyon or Paris and Bordeaux could no longer run.

The EU announced in December 2021 that it was to carry out an “in-depth” analysis of the project, which has been met with opposition by the Union des aéroports français and the European branch of the Airports Council International.

Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport has estimated that the end of the Paris-Orly route would result in a 16% drop in turnover, affecting the region’s economy.

The European Commission has stipulated that the measure will have to be reexamined after three years, and that it will also apply to connecting flights, while the original law included an exemption for this type of domestic journey.

EU legislation states that a member state can limit or ban the right to operate air routes “if other modes of transport provide a satisfactory service,” but adds that this must not be “discriminatory,” must not “distort competition between airlines” and must not be “more restrictive than necessary”. 

Read more: Climate change: ‘We need greener fuels, not jet bans, in France’

DFDS trials new coach and large group ‘five-minute’ check-in

Ferry firm DFDS is trialling a new system within its app for coach and other big groups, which would reduce the amount of time needed to check passenger passports “to around five minutes per coach” from January 2023.

The system would work by giving the travel organiser access to a ‘coach scan’ function, enabling them to enter their booking reference, route and all their passengers’ passports using their phone camera.

The information will then be sent to border authorities, cutting down the time it takes to carry out checks at the port.

This would apply on the Dover-Calais and Dover-Dunkirk routes. 

Nice airport announces 22 new winter destinations 

Nice airport has announced 22 new winter destinations, including Bordeaux, Tunis and Venice, operated by Volotea. 

Nine routes that were previously only served in the summer will now be available all year. These are: 

  • London Heathrow with Air France 
  • Stockholm Arlanda with Eurowings 
  • Chisinau (Moldova) with FlyOne 
  • Oslo with Flyr 
  • Eindhoven (Netherlands) with Transavia 
  • Belgrade (Serbia) with Wizz Air 
  • Cluj (Romania) with Wizz Air 
  • Tirana (Albania) with Wizz Air 
  • Warsaw with Wizz Air 

Some 10 routes which have not run in the winter since the Covid pandemic began will also be returning to their extended schedule. These are: 

  • Algiers (Algeria) with Air Algérie 
  • Constantine (Algeria) with Air Algérie 
  • London Gatwick with British Airways 
  • Manchester with EasyJet 
  • Marrakech with EasyJet 
  • Cologne/Bonn with Eurowings 
  • Hamburg with Eurowings 
  • Warsaw with LOT Polish Airlines 
  • Casablanca with Royal Air Maroc
  • Krakow with Wizz Air 

This comes as low-cost airline Ryanair announces a new route between Bordeaux and Paphos in Cyprus. 

Flights will begin on March 31, 2023, with two services per week. Ryanair will be the only airline operating this route

Marseille Airport announces two new routes 

Marseille-Provence will be offering its passengers routes to two new destinations – Florence and Copenhagan – from next year. 

It will be possible to travel to Florence twice a week from April, and Copenhagen twice a week from March 30.

Flights will be operated by Volotea, which is also launching new services to Brest in Brittany. This route is already covered by Transavia, so Volotea will be in competition with these flights.

Eurotunnel announces special offer for Le Shuttle tickets

Eurotunnel customers can get Le Shuttle tickets starting at £60 return per car for travel every day up to December 13.

With the Le Shuttle service, it is possible to travel between Folkestone and Calais in 35 minutes. 

Tickets are normally at least £70 each way, although prices vary depending on the time of year.

Will there ever be a metro between Nice and Monaco? 

Following President Emmanuel Macron’s announcement of a plan to build RER networks for ten major French cities over the next 10 years, Nice’s mayor Christian Estrosi has taken the opportunity to resurrect the idea of a metro line between Nice and Monaco.

Read more: Macron announces RER commuter train project for 10 French cities

He told LCI this week that his area of France should be a “priority” for this project, and proposed a “partially underground metro system” which would be 9.5km long.

He argued that this would help Nice and its surrounding area combat climate change, and provide another option to the train or car to the 40,000 plus people who travel to and from Monaco every day. 

Mr Estrosi added that this would cost “a billion euros, or two football stadiums”.

“We have great difficulty financing our public transport system,” he continued, calling for funding from the state.

“Our city should be a priority for this type of programme, when I have funded the tram line from the airport to the port, with 110,000 passengers each day, costing €1billion for 15km.”

The Nice-Monaco metro idea was already suggested over a year ago, with Bouygues and Vinci involved in talks about its potential development. 

However, the plan hit several obstacles, including the need for agreements between France and Monaco and difficulties regarding the land the rails would need to pass through.

The idea of a sea shuttle between Nice and Monaco has also been floated, but this would not be operational until 2027.

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