It was the 2005-2008 era last time dedicated all-business class airlines made news. Sadly, the news in 2008 was mostly about those airlines going out of business. MAXjet, SilverJet and eos were all players and, one-by-one, each went under. Fast forward to 2014 and the launch of La Compagnie, flying from Paris Orly to Newark with a 757 holding 74 passengers. Compare that to eos which operated a 757 with 48 seats and that’s just the first hint that the product might not be especially competitive.
After a few months of flying the Paris route La Compagnie is making a move out of the playbook from the last round: connecting London to New York City. The new service will fly from London’s fourth airport, Luton, into Newark starting on 24 April 2015. The company has already backed off on the initial plan to have aircraft configured with in-flight internet connectivity and the new service from London is counter to the originally announced plan to double up from Paris. That shift is another indication that the Paris service – and the company – are struggling.
Sure, fuel prices are much lower now than when the company started operations. And the goal of an 80% load factor for break even was probably an unrealistic one with the product on offer, but fuel prices are lower now so the break-even point is also likely lower. But that still only saves a few thousand dollars of operating costs on each flight. And that only makes for a few percentage points of load factor.
Plus, I’m still struggling to find much in the way of media coverage which speaks about the product or service in a positive nature, other than price related. Sure, there’s the regurgitated press releases, but nothing talking about a quality premium product. Of course, if you’re matching economy class prices that’s not as much of a problem. But when the sale fares go away and the regular prices start to creep back in even Norwegian looks like a better offering in many ways.
I’m in favor of new competition and I appreciate that someone is confident that this idea might work. And the lower fuel costs will help a bit. But if the goal is a proper, competitive business class offering this one seems to miss the mark.
n.b. At the time of writing, some two days after the promo sale for the first 500 seats was announced, there are still seats available at the promo price.
- Can France’s Business-Class-Only Airline La Compagnie Win Over Trans-Atlantic Fliers?
- La Compagnie: Low-ish fares for mediocre business class
- Can an airline succeed solely in the London – New York City market??
- SilverJet closes up shop
- Turbulence for the all-premium airlines?
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