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Taking flight in France

Atlanticairlift080406IT can be a real challenge to run your own airline in France, as the might of the country’s flag carrier appears to be able to block even well established operators.

EasyJet was recently forced to drop plans to fly between Paris and Corsica when the courts ruled the monopoly enjoyed by Air France on the route could not be challenged.

So maybe that is why the team behind Atlantic Air Lift will enjoy a glass or two later this month when the airline celebrates its first year in operation.

Samuel Werner, of Atlantic Air Lift, said: “We made our first flight from Nantes to Ile-d’Yeu on April 25 last year and we have carried more than 3,500 passengers in the past 12 months.

“We are flying with a Cessna Grand Caravan that allows us to carry nine passengers, which is fitted with air conditioning and soon we will begin a new route to Belle-Ile.”

Ile-d’Yeu and Belle-Ile are found off the Atlantic coast of France and are popular holiday destinations, but both islands also have an interesting history.

The Ile-d’Yeu was the place where Philippe Pétain, the wartime Vichy leader, died in 1951 and Belle-Ile was the setting for part of Alexandre Dumas’ Man in the Iron Mask.

But for now Atlantic Air Lift has its eyes firmly set on the future and is keen to see the business take off.

“We are forecast to fly 7,000 passengers this year and of course we would like to see British people enjoy our flights,” Samuel said.

“Members of the sales team speak English and although you can’t buy tickets directly online, we book tickets over the telephone and confirm everything by email.

“Our schedule allows us to link up with the Ryanair and British Airways flights to Nantes and possibly there could be a route between the city and the Channel Islands.”

Return tickets start from €120 if booked 30 days in advance during quieter times of the year, rising to €220 per person in the summer holidays.

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