Nîmes airport, particularly convenient for renters of Dominique’s Villas in the southeast and mid-southwest of France, will continue to enjoy direct flights from the UK throughout 2006.
The airport had been threatened with closure because its principal operator, Air France, said to be losing nearly £2M a year on this particular route, decided to withdraw its scheduled services. However the local residents, including the ex-pat association of BritsNîmes, lobbied the regional mayors of the Gard to secure funding from the city and from businesses in the area to keep the airport open.
Their most persuasive argument was that the remaining carrier, Ryanair, brings in 200,000 passengers a year, who contribute more than £70 million to local tourism. Ryanair operates daily flights from Stansted and Luton, and up to four times each week from John Lennon airport in Liverpool.
It remains to be seen, however, whether the new funding, even though not negotiated by Ryanair itself, will fall foul of EC legislation preventing carriers from benefiting from extraneous subsidies on otherwise “uncommercial” routes.