MIAMI — All-business class boutique carrier La Compagnie has announced plans to launch its second route from Newark Airport to London Luton Airport, starting on March 29. To celebrate the launch, the airline is offering a discounted fare of $1,007 roundtrip on the route.
As a point of comparison, The Points Guy found that the cheapest economy ticket on a nonstop flight between New York and London in the same timeframe would be $1,132.50 to $1,294.50, depending upon the carrier. La Compagnie currently operates only one aircraft, a 757-200, with which it serves on the New York to Paris-Charles de Gaulle route, but it has just taken delivery of a second 757.
Both aircraft are outfitted with 74 lie-flat seats in a 2-2 configuration. Some have complained that the seats are dated and do not have integrated inflight entertainment systems, but with a pricepoint equivalent to an economy flight on a major carrier, it is much easier to overlook the somewhat sub-par seats. It’s also worth noting that entertainment is available on the tablets provided to each passenger, and the aircraft are equipped with Wi-Fi, which is free for all passengers.
La Compagnie was launched as DreamJet in 2013, but had already changed its name to the current iteration before its first flight, in July 2014. The all-business concept is certainly not a new one; many remember the numerous failed attempts at similar services of the last decades, including MAXjet, Silverjet, L’Avion, and Eos, all of which fell victim to rising fuel and maintenance costs associated with their older fleets of 757 and 767 aircraft.
La Compagnie will have to contend with this same issues as it continues to attempt to undercut the high fares of other carriers on these two flagship routes. If it can succeed, however, it may prove a driving force in the market, especially if it can find a strategic partner to provide feeder traffic into Newark.
Today, the only major efforts at a similar service is operated by British Airways, which offers an all-business service between New York JFK and London City Airport using A318s. Their subsidiary, OpenSkies (into which L’Avion was absorbed), offers flights between JFK and Newark and Paris Orly using 757s, although these aircraft are equipped with three classes of service.
The concept of all-premium travel may be gaining steam once again, though, as Odyssey Airlines gears up to begin operating long haul premium services using a fleet of Bombardier CSeries 100s out of London City Airport to points throughout North America, the Middle East, and beyond, which may bring them into direct competition with BA’s Club World London City service. The historical odds may be against such ventures, but perhaps enough mistakes have been made that new carriers will be able to circumvent previous pitfalls.