Air France and French train operator SNCF are strengthening their co-operation agreement linking the airline's services to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) with SNCF's TGV high-speed train network.

The move reflects increasing interest in "plane-train" co-operation in Europe as major airlines concentrate on developing international alliances and higher yield routes. SNCF has existing TGV agreements with Lufthansa and United, while Lufthansa has a single ticket system with the German high-speed train service.

CDG, however, remains the only airport in the world with a direct high-speed train connection to a terminal.

SNCF chief of customer operations, Guillaume Pepy, says the SNCF aims eventually to increase the current 850,000 passengers using the Paris train-plane combination "to more than two million, with 40 TGVs daily serving 100 cities direct". He says the growing air traffic control problems in Europe are "certainly favouring this kind of agreement".

Air France says the deal is a possible prelude to a reduction of its domestic and regional services. "The market will have to vote on its preference for train or aircraft," says Air France chief operating officer Pierre-Henri Gourgeon.

The latest agreement expands the current link between Paris CDG and Lille to a further six destinations, five within France (Angers, Le Mans, Lyon, Poitiers and Tours) and, the first international connection, to Brussels.

Pepy says almost 90% of the Paris-Lyon market is held by the TGV. "We co-operate but we're also in competition with Air France."

Source: Flight International