Qatar Airways has secured additional traffic rights into France during the days it was negotiating a €6.3 billion ($7.03 billion) deal for the sale of 24 French Rafale fighter jets.
The grant of traffic rights to Qatar Airways to two of France's biggest airports after Paris are said to be a trade-off the fighter plane buy, a claim made in the French media quoting aviation industry executives unhappy with the grant of traffic increase.
Usually air traffic rights are on a bilateral basis, with airlines of two countries getting similar rights to each other's airports.
Qatar Airways already operates three daily services to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and will now fly three times a week each to Nice-Côte d’Azur and Lyon-Saint Exupéry, respectively, which are France’s third- and fourth-largest airports. Both Nice and Lyon airports were privatized by the French senate last month. The airline flies Airbus A340 and A380.
“It is legitimate that there are discussions and negotiations so that a certain number of air routes could be opened on behalf of a nation that also will bring a lot of tourists, and no one can doubt the cities of Nice and Lyon are particularly in favor of this,” Le Monde French daily quoted French President Francois Hollande as saying during a press conference in Doha.
Although Hollande did not completely deny the Qatar Airways’ new traffic right, he said the arrangement with the airline was separate from the Rafale deal, French Airlines believe that this is part of the same deal. Hollande and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani signed the Rafale contract on May 4 in Doha