MIAMI — French all-Business Class carrier, La Compagnie, has announced the introduction of a new seasonal route between Nice (NCE) and Newark (EWR), starting May through October 2019.
The airline is hoping to attract New York-based passengers to the Côte d’Azur summertime events with five flights per week, aiming to feed the world famous Cannes festival.
“The goal is not to cannibalize Delta,” the only carrier operating the route, said La Compagnie’s commercial director, Jean-Charles Perino, “but to stimulate the market.”
Perino says that Delta’s availability is often maxed out during summertime, with plenty of space left for La Compagnie’s niche product between both markets.
Delta launched the New York (JFK) to Nice service back in 2015, as part of its joint venture with Air France-KLM. Up until today, this was the only flight operating between both cities.
During summertime, travel between the US and Europe is often quite expensive, even for economy class travelers, says Perino.
La Compagnie’s hopes are that those leisure customers who are ready to pay an extra premium for expensive economy class tickets, can do so by securing a business class seat on the more affordable all-business class airline.
Currently, La Compagnie flies up to two daily flights between EWR and Paris-Orly (ORY) on its all-Business Class Boeing 757-200s.
Since 2014, the airline had been based at Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG), but this summer, it moved to Paris-Orly (ORY).
In December 2016, La Compagnie merged with French low-cost carrier, XL Airways, creating an XL Airways-La Compagnie Group to expand with more than ten long-haul destinations in North America, the Caribbean, and the Indian Ocean.
Next year, La Compagnie is expected to take delivery of its first Airbus A321neo, which will replace the aging 757s that the airline has successfully operated on this transatlantic venture. The planes are fitted with just 74 seats.
The new A321s will feature 76 lie-flat B/E Aerospace Diamond seats in a 2-2 configuration, with high-speed WiFi available at no extra cost.
A new Rave system with a 15.7” touchscreen will also complement the airline’s hard product, including noise-cancelling headsets and an amenity kit.
The carrier will become the first French airline to operate the Airbus A321neo.
Back in 2017, the airline’s co-founder and former CEO, Frantz Yvelin, told Airways that the aging Boeing 757s were due for replacement and that both the Boeing 737 MAX 9 and Airbus A321neo were contemplated as candidates.
“We don’t want to alter our business model or think ‘too big’,” explained the CEO. “So we’ll remain with single-aisle aircraft with a size similar to the 757,” he said.
The new planes are expected to arrive in April, just in time for the Nice launch. It is unclear, however, whether the airline will deploy its brand-new product on the Nice – New York service, which also starts that month.