Pau and Tarbes airports: the angry figures

Pau and Tarbes airports: the angry figures

On the Pau airport side, the “distortion of competition” represented by the Tarbes-Paris line, which benefits from a public service delegation, is annoying.


On the Pau airport side, the “distortion of competition” represented by the Tarbes-Paris line, which benefits from a public service delegation, is annoying.

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This is a first of its kind, in France, for the Spanish company (1,600 employees) which already has 18 European bases, and serves around a hundred cities located in 16 countries.

We remember that the conditions for awarding the line to Volotea had quickly led the Pau decision-makers to deplore a “distortion” of competition.

Entrusted to Volotea, the link to Paris-Orly would be


Entrusted to Volotea, the link to Paris-Orly would be “oversized” for Tarbes, according to Béarn decision-makers.

Mathieu Houadec

However, “we are not seeing an evasion of our clientele. We can estimate that there is, for the moment, no impact Volotea ”, noted at the beginning of the week Nicolas Patriarche, president of the airport Pau-Pyrénées.

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Supporting figures, the elected official rather argues for a recovery in attendance, particularly in terms of the filling rate of the devices: “77% for Orly with Transavia, 91% for Roissy and Lyon also goes back. In fact, at this rate, we can aim for 350,000 passengers and exceed our forecasts for 2022”.

Patriarche says he is all the less worried “as we know that Tarbes always works well in summer with tourism and pilgrimages. For us, we should rather wait until next winter, and see what the business clientele is doing”.

On this last point, an unknown remains with regard to the new work habits adopted during the confinements. “But we now also know that, for companies, “all video” is not a solution either”, prefers to retain the director of the site, Jérôme Le Bris.

From September 5, Béarn airport will also find a more substantial flight offer on the basis of 12 daily rotations with the capital (compared to 7 currently), including 3 very early departures allowing businessmen to return the same evening. in Bearn.

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“An oversized offer”

In fact, the resentment nourished with regard to the bigourdane platform is rather due to the volume of the Volotea offer.

“250,000 seats offered per year, which is as many as on departure from the lines from Pau to Paris. That is to say, between the two of us, more than 500,000 seats in total: it is far too many compared to their living area! The offer is oversized and this bothers us all the more since it is made with public money and the complicity of the State”, resumes Patriarche who does not want to “play the delight of the crèche” “and says feel “the impression of having been led away”. Vibe…

Low cost, parking…

Driven by a large volume of passengers attracted by the prices of low-cost operators, Tarbes, which flatters itself on its website “to attract dozens of companies each year”, is surfing on an operating model that has deserted the Pau tarmac. And this is a major difference between the two sites…

“It’s true that we are in the Top 25 of French airports and we are the only one not to have a low-cost line open to Europe,” sighs Nicolas Patriarche.

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While evoking “tracks of work” and a new roadmap “for the end of September”.

At this same period, secondary road repair works will also be undertaken, on the Pau platform, as part of “a resumption of investments postponed by the Covid”, indicates Jérôme Le Bris. These operations will precede a costly repair of the main runway (in 2024/2025).

No barriers at Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées airport: its short-term parking is free.


No barriers at Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées airport: its short-term parking is free.

Mathieu Houadec

On the other hand, no change of foot is planned, here, compared to the offer of car parks, paying, whereas Tarbes – it is another difference of approach – proposes for the moment 750 places, all free, and regardless of the duration of parking.

No free in the pipes in Pau, because “the sums collected are important to ensure our economic model”, we are told. Before the health crisis, the envelope thus obtained amounted to €1.4 million.

Of course, this is certainly not a determining element of choice for travellers. But it nevertheless illustrates, from one airport to another, distinct positions. So close, so different…

True dialogue of the deaf or misunderstanding

Where reason, and the geographical proximity between direct competitors, would require a return to the discussion table… Palois and Bigourdans are doing just the opposite. Thus, in Béarn, Nicolas Patriarche, who says “not knowing if Tarbes has an inferiority complex”, continues to claim that the level of Volotea’s flight offer “is oversized”.
In his eyes, this parameter “does not send a good signal of collaboration”. That is what is said! But is it, in fact, a dialogue of the deaf or, more simply, a regularly maintained misunderstanding? Difficult to say, especially since the leaders of the mixed union Pyrenia, manager in Tarbes, did not respond to our requests. We will therefore recall the content of their last press release on the subject. Saying then “convinced of a necessary rapprochement”, even speaking of “complementarity” and “pooling”, Pyrenia at the same time put her finger on a letter received from her Pau counterparts.
This letter submitted “a model of cooperation” which led Bigourdan decision-makers to make this observation: “Behind the stated intentions, the strategy carried out (by Pau airport) is not balanced and would put a stop to the development of the Hautes-Pyrenees”. A real end of inadmissibility.

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