FlixBus, a German firm specializing in long distance bus travel, posts results for 2017, ousting OuiBus from its leading position.
The coach operator reports that it achieved its growth targets in terms of the number of passengers and offer, with 5.2 million passengers transported in France, or +60% compared to 2016 and 90 lines connecting more than 180 stops, meaning +80% and +50% respectively compared to 2016.
The operator announces that it has almost as many Province-Province lines (49%) as Paris-Province lines (51%), thus connecting more than half of the regional capitals to one another and covering more than 80% of France's departments.
The company points out, however, that its French operations are not yet profitable. Yvan Lefranc-Morin, Managing Director France, is concerned about what he considers unfair competition, particularly from OuiBus, which he describes as "a public actor living off taxpayers' money, disconnected from sound and fair rules of competition".
The operator Transdev, which operates lines under the Eurolines and Isilines brands, had initiated proceedings for abuse of a dominant position against SNCF, but last year the Competition Authority rejected its complaint for lack of sufficient evidence.
Problems with infrastructure and "unlimited losses"
The company was initially operating from the Porte Maillot bus station, but the town hall suddenly asked it to relocate to the Bercy-Seine bus station," an nondescript station, at the end of a park, behind a mud field, with shameful accessibility". The irony of it all? OuiBus is based at the Bercy Station, where situation is very comfortable. "We would like all operators to be treated the same," says the young manager.
The carrier also denounces SNCF's status as a public undertaking, which has allowed it to absorb 180 million euros in cumulative losses between its launch in 2012 and 2017." In fact, we are recreating all the conditions for a monopoly to re-establish itself on the market," Yvan Lefranc-Morin.
Despite its lack of profits, FlixBus does not intend to slow its pace in 2018 and announces continued investments and its intention to expand the network to 230 cities.
The market in France became free in August 2015 and was structured after the price war of the first few months. Of the five companies originally launched, only three remain: FlixBus, OuiBus (SNCF), and Isilines and Eurolines (Transdev).
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