Vueling takes all the “slots” released by Air France at Orly to pass aid from the French state

It’s a KO victory for Vueling. The European Commission has just announced the allocation of all the slots made available by Air France at Paris-Orly airport – a measure demanded by Brussels in return for State aid granted by France – to the company Iberian, low-cost subsidiary of the IAG group. Vueling thus obtains no less than 18 additional daily slots (ie 9 round trips per day at Paris airport and will be able to use them from November. Their transmission must now be finalized between the two companies.

This allocation was made according to an open procedure, according to Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president of the European Commission in charge of competition policy. According to the press release, it is thus “the Commission, assisted by the agent in charge of surveillance, (who) examined in detail the proposals received by giving priority to carriers already operating a base at Paris-Orly airport, and then classifying the proposals according to the level of capacity and connectivity that carriers would deploy by making use of the slots made available by Air France. ” This way of proceeding differs from traditional redistributions during which the slots are redistributed 50-50 between new entrants and players already present on the platform.

Champion of competition in Europe, Margrethe Vestager said: “This will allow Vueling to expand its activities at this highly saturated airport and thus help to ensure fair prices and greater choice for European consumers. It also helps ensure that the considerable capital support granted to Air France enables this airline to overcome the financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic without unduly distorting competition in the single market. “

Air France recapitalization: agreement in sight between Paris and Brussels

An attribution that will make people talk

This decision, with the allocation of all the slots to a carrier already well established in Orly, risks raising disputes. Paris airport being capped at 250,000 take-offs and landings per year, these slots are rare and extremely valuable. Several companies therefore coveted the stake, whether they were other low-cost intra-European companies or operators more geared towards serving long-haul destinations.

However, European regulations usually require half the slots to be distributed to companies already installed at the airport, and the other to newcomers. During the bankruptcy of Aigle Azur in 2019, seven daily flights were granted to new entrants, and six to established players. Vueling had obtained nothing at the time, unlike Transavia, Wizz Air and Easyjet.

Air France, like Lufthansa before it in Frankfurt and Munich, had to return part of its slots to Orly to benefit from 4 billion euros in aid from the French state and thus complete its recapitalization last spring.

Air France and Transavia grab most of Aigle Azur’s traffic rights

Air France, Easyjet, Wizzair … How the Aigle Azur slots at Orly were distributed

An attribution that will make people talk

This decision, with the allocation of all the slots to a carrier already well established in Orly, risks raising disputes. Paris airport being capped at 250,000 take-offs and landings per year, these slots are rare and extremely valuable. Several companies therefore coveted the stake, whether they were other low-cost intra-European companies or operators more geared towards serving long-haul destinations.

However, European regulations usually require half the slots to be distributed to companies already installed at the airport, and the other to newcomers. During the bankruptcy of Aigle Azur in 2019, seven daily flights were granted to new entrants, and six to established players. Vueling had obtained nothing at the time, unlike Transavia, Wizz Air and Easyjet.

Air France, like Lufthansa before it in Frankfurt and Munich, had to return part of its slots to Orly to benefit from 4 billion euros in aid from the French state and thus complete its recapitalization last spring.