Brittany Ferries, new air routes, prices: Six France travel updates

Undoubtedly the biggest travel story of the week was the storm over P&O Ferries’ decision to lay off 800 of its UK employees in a bid to cut costs.

This was not welcomed by many politicians, trade unions, public figures and Report readers expressing their anger.

Read more: P&O Dover-Calais line still cancelled, readers plan to boycott service

The company’s Dover-Calais route has remained suspended since the March 17 announcement.

But good news for ferry travelers, several Brittany Ferries routes should open, from tomorrow (26 March) with the Saint-Malo-Portsmouth service.

Brittany Ferries summer season begins

Alongside the reopening of the Saint-Malo – Portsmouth line, which has been closed for 18 months due to Covid, two other lines are due to open in the next two weeks.

The Roscoff-Plymouth link resumes on Monday March 28, after a winter break, with the ship Armorique making daily trips.

And the Cherbourg-Poole line will reopen on April 4.

Brittany Ferries CEO Christophe Mathieu said the company was “delighted” to restore services after the pandemic closures.

Air France-KLM ticket prices rise amid rising fuel prices

Air France-KLM is increasing the price of its long-haul tickets to help manage rising fuel costs.

Read more: Air France increases its prices: will Ryanair and EasyJet follow?

The “amount varies depending on the destination,” a company spokesperson told A ticket for a Paris-Havana flight, for example, now costs €40 more.

Air France-KLM has been one of the slowest airline groups to raise fares. It said last week it had “good fuel coverage”, having already purchased 72% of its supplies for the first quarter of 2022 and 63% for the second.

The airline added: “Thanks to this, we do not yet see a correlation between the price of fuel and tickets, but we are monitoring the situation.”

Read more: French airline passengers face 20% increase in fares due to fuel costs

As it raises prices on long-haul routes, Air France is also putting other tickets on sale, offering cheaper fares for passengers booking before April 4. A return flight between Lyon and Bologna, for example, now costs €88.

In early March, Thomas June, head of the Union of French airports, said that fuel now represented “a quarter of the costs of airlines”.

Montpellier airport unveils its summer schedule

Montpellier-Méditerranée airport has announced its summer schedule, with flights to 35 destinations in 17 countries.

“In addition, the low-cost offer has never been so strong in Montpellier”, specifies the airport.

Passengers can fly to 10 French destinations – Ajaccio, Bastia, Brest, Caen, Lille, Nantes, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Paris-Orly, Rennes and Strasbourg – from the airport.

They can also reach Berlin, Split, Copenhagen, Seville, Athens, Heraklion, Mykonos, Santorini, Rome, Luxembourg, Oslo, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Lisbon, London-Gatwick, London-Luton, Stockholm and Basel-Mulhouse-Freiberg in Europe.

Finally, Montpellier offers seven long-haul destinations: the Algerian capital Algiers, the Moroccan cities Casablanca, Fez, Marrakech, Nador and Oujda and the Tunisian capital Tunis.

Sniffer dogs deployed in greater numbers in Ile-de-France stations

The Ile-de-France security services of the SNCF are doubling the number of sniffer dogs deployed in its stations in order to reduce the probability that a demining brigade will have to intervene in the event of the discovery of a suspicious package.

Suspicious packages and the procedure that station teams must follow in the event of discovery are the main cause of train delays in France.

However, this disturbance can be reduced by sniffer dogs, which can go directly to inspect the bag in question and thus speed up security interventions.

“While a demining brigade will take at least an hour, the dogs will take around 20 minutes,” said Muriel Dugué Vossart, director of communication at SNCF’s Rail Security.

If a dog detects something, the police may decide to evacuate the station, but “this turn of events is rare”.

In Ile-de-France, the SNCF is recruiting 10 new teams of sniffer dogs to join its 10 existing ones for the 2024 Olympic Games.

these explo dogs (which loosely translates to “explosion dogs”) are Belgian Shepherds, Labradors, and Springer Spaniels who are trained to detect explosives.

In 2021, some 41,000 abandoned bags were recovered by SNCF in Ile-de-France, almost seven times more than in 2018. This represents around 40 disposal procedures each day, resulting in delays of around 30 minutes each time.

SNCF estimates that last year alone, eight million passengers were affected by suspicious parcel-related disruptions.

SNCF keeps the Intercités contract for the next 10 years

The French government has announced that SNCF will continue to operate its 10 subsidized Intercités lines until 2031.

The Intercités network includes Paris-Limoges-Toulouse, Paris-Clermont Ferrand, Bordeaux-Marseille, Nantes-Lyon, Nantes-Bordeaux, Toulouse-Hendaye and Clermont Ferrand-Béziers, as well as three night train services from Paris to the south of France .

SNCF will receive 1.73 billion euros to continue operating these lines until the contract expires in 2031, but the state is asking for a 20% increase in passenger numbers in return.

The contract also provides that certain Intercités lines will be gradually opened up to competition over the ten-year period.

Currently, Intercités services welcome approximately 8.4 million passengers each year, with 80 to 90 services per day.

Lyon is considering the best way to develop metro services

The city now plans to create an “express tram” or “light metro” instead of the previously planned metro extension, which it considers too expensive.

Four projects were presented as part of a recent consultation, which establishes development plans for after 2026.

Respondents stressed the importance of extending line B of the metro towards Caluire and Rillieux-la-Pape and the creation of line E to serve the fifth arrondissement and the west of the city.

However, city authorities have now said these plans could prove too costly, especially as passenger numbers have still not returned to pre-pandemic levels, leading to an expected loss of 850. million euros by 2040.

“If we maintain the same level of investment as that which was planned before the crisis [€2.5billion]we will take 17 years to repay the debt, instead of eight years, ”said Bruno Bernard, president of the local authorities of Lyon and Sytral.

“The question is how much can we fund a project and which option to take,” he said, adding that the city is now looking at “alternative solutions.”

One of these ideas concerns a “light metro” (Light Raillisten)) or “express tram”, a means of transport that falls between a conventional metro service and a tram, which would run above and below ground.

“The size of the vehicles would be smaller than that of metro trains but the capacity of the transport service would be the same.”

This idea would cost municipal authorities half the cost of subway options, saving money by not having to build tunnels. It would take 8 to 10 years to complete them, compared to 11 to 13 years for conventional metro projects.

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