La Compagnie starts CDG-Newark with 74-seat all-business 757

First flight evidence. Without much fanfare or celebration La Compagnie is seen here on push-back on the inaugural flight from Paris CDG to New York Newark on 21 July. Its initial schedule is ‘fluid’ but will eventually settle down to offer a six times weekly (excluding Tuesdays) service from October.

Having received its operating certificate from the French DGAC on 26 June, self-styled ‘Boutique Airline’ La Compagnie sneaked out of Paris CDG on 21 July on its inaugural flight to New York Newark. The all-business class airline finally launched services with its 74-seat 757-200 on that day, having originally planned to start services on 11 July.

La Compagnie is aiming to follow in some of the footsteps of the likes of MaxJet, EOS and Silverjet (all of which went out of business), but will want to more closely emulate the continued operation of L’Avion, which was sold to British Airways and now operates at OpenSkies. The BA product flies daily between Paris Orly and New York JFK, and 12 times weekly between Paris Orly and New York Newark with 114-seat 757-200s. Indeed, La Compagnie was founded in October 2013 by L’Avion founder Frantz Yvelin and former Swissair and JetAirways COO Peter Luethi.

Initial schedule is ‘fluid’

Looking at the airline’s website to understand its initial schedule, it is perhaps best to describe its first six weeks of operation as ‘fluid’. The start-up of operations at the end of July is perhaps not the best time of the year for a French business airline to commence services, coming just days before the annual ‘grand depart’ in August when typically summer holidays are taken in France. The resulting flying programme for the first six weeks reveals that the airline does not offer a consistent product across any week during that period — not the best way to lure the business class passenger the airline is targeting.

Week Commencing Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
21 Jul X X
28 Jul X X
04 Aug X X X X
11 Aug X X X X X
18 Aug X X X X
25 Aug X X X X X
Source: La Compagnie website.

However, presuming it gets that far, the schedule by October seems to have settled into a six weekly offer, which sees only a Tuesday flight not for sale each week. While undertaking this schedule research our data elves noticed that there were still some Є233 one-way fares available in August. Not bad for a business class seat to New York.

Taking on United and Delta

In terms of incumbents operating on the airport pair, United Airlines flies double-daily, while Delta Air Lines flies six times weekly. La Compagnie’s weekly seat share is 3.2% to begin with, rising to 7.7% when the airline increases to five times weekly frequency (in week commencing 11 August) and 9.1% in October when its adds a sixth weekly service. In addition to this direct competition, La Compagnie will also be fighting for Paris-New York market share against the following airlines (for week commencing 21 July):

  • American Airlines (AA) – double-daily Paris CDG to New York JFK;
  • Air France (AF) – five times daily Paris CDG to New York JFK;
  • OpenSkies (EC) – daily Paris Orly to New York JFK and 12 times weekly Paris Orly to New York Newark;
  • Delta Air Lines (DL) – daily Paris CDG to New York JFK;
  • XL Airways (SE) – daily Paris CDG to New York JFK.

Somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean this week, there was a more or less empty 757 flying for La Compagnie. One-way fares of Є233 were still available on certain flights in August — pretty cheap for a business class ticket between Paris and New York.


Comments

  1. Roger Curtiss says:

    These “elite” trans-atlantic airline models never work and there is no reason to believe this one, especially with its erratic early schedule will either. By this time next year the airline will be gone and no one will remember it even existed.

  2. Alain FAVIER says:

    As you clearly mention, all previous similar iniatives failed, even on the Transatlantic-UK market, which shows a higher demand than the French one. Openskies is still online but the model radically changed from the initial “L’Avion”, ie a more usual 3 cabin product ilo a 100% Business one.
    So does la Compagnie have a chance to do better ?
    In case of a failure, will they be as lucky as l’Avion to find investors for a takeover ?
    I am afraid no European carrier has enough resource to repeat the BA story. Maybe non European …..

  3. RH Omea says:

    No airline in history was profitable immediately and L’Avion was well on its way to profitability when it was bought and was considered a success by BA’s analysts. I flew it at least once a month after its first week and was impressed by the decreasing number of empty seats over the first 18 months before the sale. Especially when you consider the economic collapse on both sides of the Atlantic impacted all business travel heavily when they started in 2008-09.
    There is ample room in the NYC-PAR market for a lower cost Biz Class product now as the target economies have moved back to growth – so there is no visible reason that the fellows who made a bundle selling l’Avion won’t find even more success with this product. My one piece of advice is that they get some money for well-targeted MARKETING. People can’t fly what they don’t know exists.

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