The president of Air France, Christian Blanc, has launched an unprecedented attack on the French Government for its "counter-productive and defensive" attitude to air-transport liberalisation.

In an interview with the Paris-based political club "Fondation Saint-Simon", Blanc accuses the Government of pursuing a "totally catastrophic" air-transport policy over the last 15 years. He accused the Governmnet of "interfering in everything, seeking compromises everywhere and having absolutely no strategy".

Outlining what he calls the "revolution" of the French flag carrier in the three years since he took over as president, Blanc complains about the Government's failure to ensure co-operation between the state-owned Aéroports de Paris and Air France. The lack of a common development policy is "to the profit of foreign competitors", he says, adding that he "admires" the "collective intelligence" applied by UK aviation bodies to support the UK air-transport industry.

Blanc outlined a plan to reduce unit costs by a further 15% over the next three years on top of the 20% already achieved since he took over. The new cuts will bring it on a costs par with its European rivals.

He adds that Air France "-would be a part" of the expected 18% growth in traffic during the same period, and would develop "faster than the industry" on long- and medium-range routes, to compensate for the loss of business on short-range routes as a result of increased competition.

Source: Flight International