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Black Friday sales, Air France strike: 7 French travel updates

We also look at the rising cost of Christmas plane tickets, the decline of cars in Paris and more

The new Omneo class train for Nice, strikes announced due to Air France’s withdrawal from Orly, expensive last minute train tickets, and an increasingly car-free Paris Pic: Markus Mainka / Kiev.Victor / TK Kurikawa / Leitenberger Photography / Shutterstock

This week you may have read our articles on the proposal to let people consult a doctor from train stations via a video terminal, the proposed speed limit reduction on the péripherique and the driver who escaped a fine after being caught speeding at 275km/h.

Air travel updates:

Air France is to be hit by a potentially major strike on Tuesday (November 28).

The strike, announced by six workers’ unions, comes in response to the airline’s proposed withdrawal from Paris Orly.

While the extent of the strike action is not yet known, passengers travelling with AirFrance should anticipate significant disruption on November 28.

“The aim is not to stop clients from taking the plane but to show our opposition to Air France withdrawing [from Paris Orly],” Christophe Dewatine, director of the CFDT Union, told Agence France Presse.

The six unions have made their opposition clear with the UNSA Aérien Union saying that “entire families will have to pay a heavy price.”

In response to the announcement, Air France said “it is still too early to know what impact this movement will have on operations”, adding that it “will make all resources available to ensure that all of our clients are transported.”

Read also: French MPs move to stop last-minute air traffic controller strikes

 

Passengers benefit less by booking Christmas flights three months in advance due to the airlines’ pricing mechanisms.

The result, according to a report by travel search engine Liligo, is that passengers trying to pay less are ultimately falling into a pricing trap set by airlines.

Christmas flights from Paris to Lisbon booked three months in advance cost 94% more than they do when booked three months in advance in May and 32% more than in August.

The same trend applies for flights to

  • London: +49% over flights in May and + 13% in August
  • Rome: +66% and +18%
  • Istanbul: +64% and 28%

“It's highly paradoxal,” said Liligo spokesman Guillaume Rostand, in Le Parisien, “but passengers now understand that they have to book in advance.”

“It creates a spike in demand three months before the flight, which results in a mechanical rise in prices. In the following weeks there is often a relative decrease in prices.”

 

Airlines propose limited Black Friday sales and free payment schemes.

Some of the offers end on Friday (November 24), and others have limited availability, so make your reservations quickly!

What is on offer:

  • Easyjet - flights from €24.99 until November 27
  • Ryanair - a buy one get one free deal for travel between December 1 and February 29 2024. This deal ends on November 24.
  • FrenchBee - four free payment instalments for flights to the USA, French Polynesia and Réunion until November 27
  • Vueling - 10,000 seats from €11.99 until November 27
  • British Airways - flights to Europe from €39 each way until November 27

Rail Travel updates:

The SNCF is offering discounted tickets in the Black Friday sales.

Tickets are for TGV Inoui and Intercities trains are available on SNCF Connect for as little as €19 until November 27

The tickets are on sale for the travel period between January 11 and February 11 2024. Passengers can upgrade to first class from €1.

SNCF Connect is also offering Eurostar tickets to Brussels, Amsterdam, Cologne and Rotterdam at €29 from January 3 to March 16 2024, with tickets through the tunnel to London from €36.

For the most ambitious travellers, SNCF Connect is also offering a 25% discount on the Interrail Pass, which allows for unlimited rail travel around 33 countries - including the UK. 

While the Interrail Pass offers free travel on most rail networks, passengers typically have to reserve or pay a supplement for certain connections such as TGVs.

The discounted three month Interrail Pass is available on SNCF Connect from €237 until November 28.

The director of the SNCF’s TGV and Intercities services has given his tips to pay less for train tickets

Speaking to Le Figaro Radio’s Question Voyage podcast this week, SNCF director Alain Krakovitch said people should always bear in mind four points when buying tickets:

  • Anticipate - “The earlier you buy, the cheaper it will be”
  • Be Flexible - “Trains are always more expensive when everyone wants to travel”
  • Travel Cards - “Five million people use a carte avantage, which offers a 30% reduction on most tickets”
  • Use low cost trains “50% of Ouigo tickets cost less than €25.

However, Mr Krakovitch defended the SNCF’s policy of charging cancellation fees within the last seven days before travel.

“The price of train tickets is by no means rising significantly. They have risen by less than 5% over last year,” he said.

“We are trying to account for inflation by not increasing the price of travel cards and by keeping price rises to a minimum. However, we still need to invest in new trains, because unlike what people think, we do not receive government grants to buy new trains.”

 

New trains have been delivered to the future operator of the Marseille to Nice route

The SNCF’s TER services on the route will be replaced in July 2025 by Transdev, which has ordered 16 new Omneo trains from Alstom at a cost of €250m.

The first of the new trains was delivered this week.

President of the Paca region Renaud Muselier welcomed the news.

“We were not satisfied with the service of the SNCF, which used to be the exclusive operator. We had the worst network in France,” he said.

“The aim is to go from 3.5 to 5.5million passengers”

The new Regio 2N Omneo trains offer higher passenger capacity and places for bicycles.

“It will be our first regional train in France,” announced Transdev CEO Thierry Mallet.

“It will also be a first for France and a challenge for the local team, but I have no doubt about our capability to make this a high performance service for everyone

Road travel updates:

Only one in three Paris households owns a car, says a government report

Motorists are under increasing pressure in Paris after a series of measures have made car ownership more complex and expensive.

Car ownership in Paris has declined from 42.8% in 1975 to 33.5% in 2019, according to a report by government statistics agency Insee, released on November 23.

The decline should come as no surprise in light of policies of the Paris mairie penalising cars in favour of travel by metro and bicycle. 

The Paris authorities also make cars impractical by frequent car-free days, Crit’Air stickers and high-priced parking spaces.

This has also resulted in two-thirds of the remaining cars in Paris being Crit’Air class 1 or 2. Outside of the boulevard péripherique, in Seine-Saint-Denis, most cars are Crit’Air class 4 or 5.

While the Insee study found that car ownership has declined in the Paris area, it is still increasing overall in France, with 84.7% of households owning a car.

Read more: Last ‘grand stage’ of Paris Olympic tickets to go on sale next week

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