Julian Moxon/PARIS

Air France has taken 100% control of its former regional franchisee Brit Air in a move to consolidate its dominant position in the French regional feeder market. Meanwhile, the SAir Group's attempt to merge three other French regionals has met stiff resistance from unions.

Brit Air joins other recent Air France purchases, Regional Airlines and Proteus/Flandre Air. The Morlaix-based carrier was sold for €96 million ($90 million) on 19 June after shareholders agreed the deal would "guarantee the backing of a major player in a regional transport consolidation context". Xavier Leclerc will remain president.

Brit Air has grown in recent years and in 1999/2000 posted an income of €8.2 million on operating revenues of €257 million. It operates 38 aircraft and carried 2.2 million passengers during the period.

Air France president Jean-Cyril Spinetta says the degree of integration of its regional airlines "has not been fully decided. We don't want to keep it as distinct elements, but we also don't want a single entity".

The SAirGroup's recent purchase of Air Littoral and its plans to merge it with AOM and Air Liberté, in which it acquired an interest when British Airways left the French market earlier this year, form the core of the Swiss carrier's attack on the French domestic market. The scheme has run into trouble with the three airlines' unions, however, who have threatened strike action over job losses resulting from any merger.

SAirGroup president Philippe Brugisser says he will present his plan in October. He has already announced that the group's French possessions will be split into two components operating under the same commercial banner. AOM and Air Liberté, which both have strong international operations and similar aircraft types, will be based at Paris Orly, while Air Littoral, which operates smaller aircraft, will move its main centre of operations from Montpellier to Nice.

Source: Flight International