This is the first of its kind, in France, for the Spanish company (1,600 employees) which already has 18 European bases and provides services to a hundred cities located in 16 countries.
We recall that the conditions for awarding the line to Volotea had quickly led the Pau decision-makers to deplore a “distortion” of competition.
However, “we are not seeing an evasion of our clientele. We can estimate that there is, at the moment, no Volotea impact”, Nicolas Patriarche, president of the Pau-Pyrénées airport, pointed out earlier this week.
Supporting figures, the elected official advocates rather a recovery of assistance, particularly in terms of the filling rate of the devices: “77% for Orly with Transavia, 91% for Roissy and Lyon also returns. In fact, at this rate, we can target 350,000 passengers and exceed our forecasts for 2022.”
Patriarche says he is less concerned “as we know that Tarbes always does well in the summer with tourism and pilgrimages. For us, we should wait until next winter and see what the commercial clientele is doing.”
On this last point, one question remains regarding the new work habits adopted during confinement. “But now we also know that, for companies, “all video” is not a solution either”, prefers to retain the director of the site, Jérôme Le Bris.
As of September 5, Béarn airport will also find a more important flight offer based on 12 daily rotations with the capital (compared to the current 7), including 3 very early departures that will allow businessmen to return the same night to Béarn.
“An oversized offer”
In fact, the resentment fueled towards the bigourdane platform is due rather to the volume of Volotea’s offer.
“250,000 places are offered per year, which is equivalent to the departure of the lines from Pau to Paris. That is to say, between the two of us, more than 500,000 seats in total: that is too many compared to its living space! The offer is oversized and this bothers us all the more since it is done with public money and with the complicity of the State”, Patriarche takes up, not wanting to “play with the delights of the nursery” “and says he feels” the impression of having been taken “. Ambient…
Low cost, parking…
Driven by a large volume of passengers attracted by the prices of low-cost operators, Tarbes, which boasts on its website of “attracting dozens of companies each year”, sails on an operating model that has deserted the track of Pau . And this is a big difference between the two sites…
“It is true that we are in the Top 25 French airports and we are the only ones that do not have a low-cost line open to Europe”, sighs Nicolas Patriarche.
While evoking “work tracks” and a new roadmap “by the end of September”.
In this same period, secondary road repair works will also be undertaken, on the Pau platform, as part of “a resumption of investments postponed by Covid”, indicates Jérôme Le Bris. These operations will precede an expensive repair of the main runway (in 2024/2025).
On the other hand, here no change of foot is foreseen with respect to the offer of car parks, for a fee, while Tarbes – it is another difference in approach – currently proposes 750 spaces, all free, and regardless of the duration of the parking lot.
Nothing for free in Pau’s pipes, because “the amounts collected are important to ensure our economic model,” they tell us. Before the health crisis, the endowment thus obtained amounted to 1.4 million euros.
Of course, this is certainly not a determining factor of choice for travelers. But, nevertheless, it illustrates, from one airport to another, different positions. So close, so different…
True dialogue of the deaf or misunderstanding
Where reason, and the geographical proximity between direct competitors, would require returning to the debate table… Palois and Bigourdans are doing just the opposite. Thus, in Béarn, Nicolas Patriarche, who says “I don’t know if Tarbes has an inferiority complex”, continues to proclaim that the level of Volotea’s flight offer “is oversized”.
In his opinion, this parameter “does not give a good sign of collaboration”. That is what is said! But is it, in fact, a dialogue of the deaf or, more simply, a regularly held misunderstanding? Difficult to say, especially since the leaders of the mixed union Pyrenia, manager in Tarbes, did not respond to our requests. Therefore, we will remember the content of your last press release on the subject. Saying then “convinced of a necessary rapprochement”, even speaking of “complementarity” and “sharing”, Pyrenia at the same time put her finger on a letter received from her counterparts in Pau.
This letter presented “a model of cooperation” that led Bigourdan’s decision-makers to make this observation: “Behind the declared intentions, the strategy carried out (by Pau airport) is not balanced and would stop the development of Hautes- Pyrenees”. A true end of inadmissibility.
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