THE market for internal flights in France should be a busy, thriving business considering the size of the country.
But the stranglehold that Air France enjoys over the market has seen smaller airlines collapse, leaving people little option but to pay inflated prices, or travel by other means.
It is against this background that new low cost airline Air Turquoise opened its doors this week providing flights from Reims airport in the north of France.
Air Turquoise is keen to take bookings over the internet which naturally keeps their costs at a minimum, but just how easy is it?
Well the site is clearly laid out with plain and simple text that is easy to read but there is only a link on the page that allows you to start booking a flight.
Maybe they think that because they currently only fly to three destinations, Bordeaux, Nice and Marseille, a link will do, but why make people search around?
If you want to book a flight then a page is provided with departure and destination, alongside dates of travel, number of passengers and if any children will be travelling.
So I picked a return ticket for one adult, travelling from Reims to Marseille on July 6 and heading back a week later.
The prices quoted were €55 for the outward journey and €50 for the return, inclusive of taxes.
I checked the Air France site and a flight on the same day from Paris to Marseille was quoted at €151,89 – not an exact comparison but close.
Anyway back to Air Turquoise, the only problem I found with the booking engine was that I had to create an account first, which asked for name, email address and other personal details.
I’m not a great fan of this. Why not just integrate it with the actual payment screen? If people are not sure about using the internet it can cause them to leave the site, don’t make it difficult to buy a ticket.
The payment screen is clear and it is easy to see the price you will be charged and it uses the e-commerce services of Credit Agricole, so your details should be secure.
On the rest of the Air Turquoise site you will find information about baggage, travelling with children and advice on the cities the airline flies to.
It is all in French at the moment, it will be interesting to see if the site is translated into any other languages in the future.
Many low cost airlines offer their site in a number of different languages, obviously English is popular but most sites look to cater for other Europeans.
And despite searching high and low I couldn’t find a newsletter to sign up to.
Another key element of a site is to keep in touch with people who visit. Newsletters, and other techniques, provide this opportunity but I am going to have to keep visiting the site to stay up to date with tickets deals and new services.
Overall, the Air Turquoise site works smoothly and offers good prices, but with the might of Air France breathing down their necks, it is going to be a tough battle to keep ahead in the clouds.
Update: Air Turquoise ends operations