In mid-June I wrote about La Compagnie, a new airline offering all business class service between Paris and Newark. If there’s one lesson you’d think the airline industry has learned over the past decade, it’s that independent all business class transatlantic airlines don’t work. There’s a reason that all of the independent ones have gone out of business.
Why La Compagnie’s business model is flawed
La Compagnie started service this past week between Paris and Newark, using their 757-200 aircraft. The aircraft has 74 angled flat business class seats. If you’re going to offer an all business class transatlantic product, it needs to at least be competitive. And this product simply isn’t. Lets look at the other players in the market:
- Delta: all their aircraft on the route feature fully flat beds
- OpenSkies (owned by British Airways): all their aircraft on the route feature fully flat beds
- United: all their aircraft on the route feature fully flat beds
- Air France: they just launched their new business class product on this route, and within a couple of years will exclusively have fully flat beds on the route
- American: they’re in the process of installing fully flat beds
If you’re a new player to the market, it’s absolutely bizarre to me that you’d come in with an uncompetitive product.
Quite possibly the most laughable part of their plan is that they’ll have three flight attendants for 74 business class passengers. I’ve talked to flight attendants from a variety of airlines about this, and they all laughed their asses off. Typically in business class you have one flight attendant per 10-12 passengers, so to have one per ~25 passengers is just insane, especially on such a short transatlantic flight where people want to maximize sleep. On the eastbound flights they’ll be lucky if they finish the dinner service by the time they reach Paris.
Amazing La Compagnie business class fares
Okay, now that I’m done ragging on them, let me point out how ridiculously good their fares are. Over summer they’re charging less for business class than many carriers are charging for economy class.
The fare is 500EUR one-way for the lowest restricted fare, regardless of which side of the Atlantic you’re originating on. These fares are available last minute with no minimum stay requirements.
So a roundtrip fare is ~1,100EUR (~1,500USD) including all taxes, fees, and surcharges.
And it gets even better than that. If two people are traveling, they have a special for 1,776EUR roundtrip for two people, which is a discount of 226EUR.
That brings down the per person fare to 888EUR (~1,200USD).
If you live in New York or Paris and want to fly transatlantic, this is a value that’s really tough to beat. Now, I wouldn’t book too far in advance because I’d be shocked if they’re around for more than a few months, but in theory this is a hell of a deal.
Ready to book your La Compagnie ticket? Too bad!
Amazingly enough La Compagnie still doesn’t have a website in English or one that works in the US. So if you’re in the US you’ll need an IP (or friend) in Europe to book your ticket. Unbelievable to be operating an airline between two markets without passengers in one of those markets being able to book tickets.
La Compagnie’s founder
Fun fact. La Compagnie was founded by Frantz Yvelin, the same guy that founded L’Avion several years back, an airline which did exactly the same thing (all business class service between Paris and Newark).
That airline ended up being purchased by British Airways to add to their OpenSkies operation, which was one hell of a lucky break for them, since the airline wasn’t making any money.
It’s fascinating that the same guy would do exactly the same thing again. Is he hoping to get lucky and sell to British Airways again? It sure seems like the OpenSkies operation isn’t exactly profitable for British Airways, so I doubt they’d bite again.
I’m sure La Compagnie will have no problem filling planes at these prices, but even with a 100% load factor they’d be losing a lot of money. No one in their right mind would pay full fare business to fly La Compagnie over one of the airlines that offers a superior product, more frequencies, and better reliability.
That won’t stop me from flying them in the meantime, though!
So, who’s ready to give La Compagnie a shot?