Earlier in the decade the smart aircraft play for a niche, premium airline between the US and Europe was the 757-200. Those frames are aging, however, and the options for replacement, especially for the transatlantic market, are limited. La Compagnie currently operates a pair of 752s configured with 74 business class seats. The company will trade these out for the A321neo frames in the near future according to CEO Laurent Magnin; a formal announcement is expected in the next couple weeks.
UPDATE: Apparently he meant couple days, not couple weeks; the announcement was made on the 21st.
— La Compagnie (@_LaCompagnie) September 21, 2017
Magnin’s comments came in a discussion about the future of La Compagnie’s sister airline, XL Airways, and its route structure. During that discussion he stated (emphasis mine), “Probably the Airbus 321 will be the choice for us on [new XL] routes. It will be the choice for another airline in the group. That’s the new game with new planes.” With the XL group hosting only the two airlines, XL Airways and La Compagnie, there are not many other options for what that statement means.
In a follow-up conversation Magnin stated that the A321 would “definitely” be used by the parent company in some scenarios and that “We will announce something for La Compagnie [in 10-15 days] for the fleet.”
La Compagnie’s longevity as an all-business class airline in a market competing against multiple legacy airlines and alliances is impressive. The company claims a 76% load factor, higher than in previous years. Magnin notes that the recent decision to close the Luton route and move both planes to Paris service helped shore up operations and revenue for the company.
The deal for La Compagnie is to optimize. This is why we have moved to two flights per day [at Paris]. A year ago I discovered an airline with one flight in London and one flight in Paris with two planes. And I say this makes no sense. Stop immediately this goddamned flight in London. Two flights a day in Paris will be a real offer. And probably the next fight with the legacy [airlines] will be business class with lower price… This is why I believe in the model a lot.
We are an answer for the people who have companies but they want to put their money in the company, not the airlines. I believe that [market] grows.
Expect a formal announcement in the coming weeks, but it appears that the deal is done for the company. Another small but notable win for Airbus over Boeing where the latter does not offer an airframe that meets the market segment needs.
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