New flights, UK border force strike off: Eight France travel updates

We also report on a fall in Brittany Ferries’ cross-Channel passengers, a ticketing scam, heavy traffic warnings and more

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

New air routes launching across France, including to UK

Several airlines have announced that they will be launching new routes from various French airports this or next year.

EasyJet will be opening its 40th route departing from Nice airport in summer 2023, heading this time for Copenhagen.

EasyJet has also announced that several routes will have extra services added this winter. These include its Lisbon flights, which will now run six times a week, its Paris flights, which will now run 12 times a day, its Rome flights, increasing to one per day, and its Marrakech flights, increasing to one a day in the week and two a day on the weekend.

The low-cost airline is also beginning to fly between Marseille and Basel-Mulhouse and Lisbon.

Air Arabia Egypt has also announced a new route between Cairo and Marseille, opening on December 16 with two flights per week.

Vueling will be launching a new route between Paris-Orly and Marrakech from March 26 with four flights a week.

The Spanish airline will be in competition with Royal Air Maroc, Air France and EasyJet on this route, although the latter only flies from Charles de Gaulle.

Transavia has opened or will open this weekend 13 new routes from Paris, Lyon, Montpellier, Nice and Marseille.

These are:

  • Paris-Orly - Istanbul up to six times a week
  • Lyon - Istanbul up to twice a week
  • Lyon - Las Palmas (Spain) once a week
  • Montpellier - Madrid up to three times a week
  • Marseille - Casablanca up to twice a week
  • Lyon - Béjaïa (Algeria) up to twice a week
  • Marseille - Marrakech up to twice a week
  • Nice - Tunis up to twice a week
  • Lyon - Hurghada (Egypt) once a week
  • Lyon - Dakar (Senegal) once a week
  • Lyon - Tenerife once a week
  • Paris-Orly - Sharm el-Sheikh once a week
  • Marseille - Djerba (Tunisia) once a week

Finally, WizzAir will from January 10 start flying between London Gatwick and Lyon on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

UK Border Force votes against Christmas strike action

People travelling between the UK and France will not be affected by UK Border Force strike action this Christmas, as union members voted against taking action.

A Border Force strike would have resulted in delays at security in the UK’s 140 ports and airports and up to 3,500 staff would have taken part.

Airports such as Manchester and Heathrow, which are still experiencing staffing shortages as they struggle to recruit following Covid-related redundancies, would likely have been most severely affected.

Border Force union members were considering strike action to demand an 80% pay rise, as inflation tops 10%. The Home Office has only offered a 3% increase so far, a proposal which ISU union General Secretary Mark Gribbin described as “appalling”.

However, members voted on whether or not to strike this week, and although 84.5% of votes were in favour, the ballot did not reach the 50% turnout needed for mobilisation to go ahead.

Brittany Ferries "optimistic" despite fall in Channel traffic

Brittany Ferries has published figures on its passenger numbers for this financial year (November to October), revealing a fall in English Channel traffic but a “strong performance” on Ireland-France and UK-Spain routes.

The firm said that it is “optimistic” for the year ahead and that “forward reservations are positive,” as there “are no barriers to passengers crossing borders, as there were in France at the beginning of 2022.”

Brittany Ferries said that volumes on Channel routes are a concern, having fallen by 20% compared to 2018-19, but that there has been a 9% increase in passenger numbers on UK-Spain routes.

CEO Christophe Mathieu said: “Overall volumes were down by 35% to 1.22 million units in the last year. There are a number of reasons for this disappointing performance, including French borders re-opening in mid-January missing much of the busiest period for holiday bookings post-Christmas.

“But the post-Brexit imposition of passports for French passengers visiting the UK has dramatically hit this side of our business too. What is needed now is a concerted push from tourist bodies in France and the UK to boost volumes next year and to aid the recovery of this market for us and other companies operating in the tourism sector.”

Brittany Ferries spokesperson Nigel Wonnacott has previously told The Connexion that, taking into account the performance of good performance on the Spanish routes, the year has been “extremely encouraging” after a “ghastly” Covid period.

Read more: Brittany Ferries reports better year after 'ghastly' Covid period

This comes as Brittany Ferries and unions urge France to follow the UK in implementing a law requiring at least the minimum wage for Channel ferry workers.

The Seafarers’ Wages Bill is progressing quickly through the UK parliament in the wake of the P&O sackings scandal – and unionists are calling on France to follow suit.

It will mean that the British £9.50/hour wage will have to be paid to all staff with ‘close ties’ to the UK while in UK waters. It also has new rules on ‘hire and fire’ practices.

Read more: France urged to follow as UK launches ferry fair pay law after P&O row

Mr Wonnacott has previously told The Connexion that: “It is a very serious issue for us because it [the current situation] creates a playing field that is not level, aside from the fact that we, as a company, believe in supporting people and enriching regions.”

TER ticket prices will increase in 2023 because of energy costs

TER ticket prices are expected to rise slightly in 2023 – depending on the region of France – as a result of the increased cost of energy, Le Parisien reports.

SNCF’s regional services will see their bills rise by 10-30% next year, resulting in millions of euros of additional costs, and have said: “We cannot absorb it all”.

In Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, TER prices will increase by 8% for occasional passengers, and 2.8% for people with season tickets.

Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur are preparing for similar rises. In Ile-de-France, it is the Navigo pass which could see its price increase to €100 per month.

Grand-Est, for its part, has said that it is waiting to find out more about its energy bills and will increase its tariffs in the spring.

Heavy traffic as families return from Toussaint breaks

Today and tomorrow (November 4-5) are expected to be “difficult” for drivers travelling back to the Ile-de-France region after Toussaint half-term breaks.

The A6, the A13 and the A10 are set to be particularly congested, especially in the afternoon and evening and around toll booths.

National forecasting service Bison Futé therefore recommends that people try to get back to Ile-de-France before 14:00 if travelling on either day.

On Sunday (November 6), traffic conditions should return to normal.

Traffic conditions should be normal across the rest of the country.

You can find out more on the Bison Futé website.

Ile-de-France station building to be auctioned off

The old station building in Cergy (Val-d’Oise) is to be auctioned off, with bids to start at €180,000.

The 76m² building has been valued at €243,000, and the auction will take place between November 22 and 24.

The site currently belongs to the commune and has not been used for years, so will need renovations. However, the building could be converted into a house, especially given its central location.

Some visits to the station have already taken place, and more are planned for November 14.

New scam warning on Rennes métro

A new scam has been identified on the Rennes métro network, with several people already falling victim.

The scam involves a post-it note reading ‘HS’ (hors service, out of order) and stuck on a ticket machine, indicating that contactless payments are not possible and inviting the customer to insert their card.

However, the scammer will be watching the passenger and making a note of their pin. Both will then descend to the platform, and the scammer will pickpocket the victim’s purse or wallet as they board.

One victim said that: “By the time I had turned round, [the scammer] had already got back off the train.”

Reports of a similar scam also surfaced in November 2021 in Toulouse, when a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old girl were caught in the act.

No trains between Nantes and Cholet next weekend

There will be no trains running between Nantes and Cholet (Maine-et-Loire) via Clisson on between Sunday, November 13 and Monday, November 14.

The suspension, which is planned to allow work on the line first started in 2019, will last from 04:00 on the Sunday to 03:00 on the Monday.

The works may also cause some disturbance for local residents because of the machines being used.

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