Transavia's French growth plan is focused on building up operations at its Paris Orly base, while the nation's other cities are not part of that strategy, the airline's network and revenue management vice-president confirms.

David Sandier told Flightglobal at Routes Europe that Air France-KLM's budget subsidiary selected the capital as its low-cost "battleground" with the aim of realising 80-90% of its planned traffic growth in Orly.

During summer 2015, the airline will add five aircraft to its 20-strong Boeing 737 fleet and open 10 routes from the capital's second airport. The routes selected are to European cities and shift Transavia's existing focus away from leisure traffic to Mediterranean destinations, says Sandier.

However, it appears the airline is not aiming to establish itself in other major French cities, such as Marseille, Nice and Toulouse. While Sandier accepts that other carriers might target those markets, he says there are no current plans to expand operations or establish secondary bases for Transavia outside Paris.

Air France and its regional unit Hop operate a domestic network from both Charles de Gaulle and Orly, with a limited number of international flights from secondary cities. But the latter services will be discontinued later this year as part of the reorganisation into a single unit of Air France's Orly-based operations and Hop.

Transavia's objective is to become the largest low-cost carrier in the capital, with annual growth between 2% and 3%, says Sandier. While there is "underlying" demand for more air traffic within Europe, he says it is difficult for legacy carriers to cater for that growth with their existing cost basis.

The build-up of Transavia has allowed Air France-KLM to serve such point-to-point routes. Sandier says the aim for Transavia is to be as efficient as EasyJet "on a French basis". Referring to cost factors such as tax and social security contributions in France, he admits that Transavia will not be able to match the cost basis of its UK competitor in absolute terms.

Nevertheless, the budget subsidiary has enabled the parent group to grow its European network again. Sandier says airports have become more accessible for negotiations with Transavia than with the parent group.

"Low-cost carriers, for me, [represent] fun, energy and something about sex appeal," he says. "Five years ago I used to go to Routes [as an Air France executive] and to be honest the airports were not so happy with Air France because there is no growth… Now that I move from Air France to Transavia, with a lot of growth and with a tool that is able to develop new routes, develop capacity – in a way I'm now really sexy when talking to airports. It's way more fun now than it used to be at Air France."

Source: Cirium Dashboard