London-New York route for April 24 launch, with others on the way

A new business class only airline is set to launch a London-New York service on April 24 – and it says other routes are on the horizon.

La Compagnie has summer promotional fares of £1,100 (Dh6,027) for a return ticket – about half the business fare offered by established rivals British Airways and Virgin Atlantic – and a regular price of about £1,550.

Part of the saving comes with using non-core airports. The airline flies between London Luton, 50 kilometres from the centre of the city, and Newark, which is actually in New Jersey.

It is to be the second route for La Compagnie, which started flying from Paris Charles de Gaulle to Newark in July 2014.

Here, the company’s chief executive Frantz Yvelin tells The National how other routes could follow – and why he believes his budget business class model can withstand higher oil prices.

q Would there still be a business case for an all-premium class airline if oil prices returned to highs of over $100?

Obviously, we do prefer fuel prices standing below $100 than above, but this is also true for all air transportation industry players that I know, ranging from charter or even private jet operators to the largest legacy carriers … Keep in mind that all operators are roughly paying the same prices when it comes to fuel. Second, I believe such effect [of higher oil prices] would be way stronger as soon as coach class is involved, which is not our case. Our cost structure has been designed in a very innovative and efficient way, which means our competitive advantage would stand [if] oil prices would return to highs of over $100.

Is La Compagnie considering any other routes or is it concentrating on its two core transatlantic flights?

The answers are actually “yes” and “yes” to both questions.

How has demand been for your airline’s London-New York route, which launches in late April?

Pre-launch demand is stronger than what we saw, back in mid-2014, with our initial Paris-New York route.

Has the airline made any progress in launching a frequent flyer programme?

We are in the process of testing and implementation. Our frequent flyer programme will be launched within a few weeks, and all passengers who have already flown La Compagnie since last July will benefit from it.

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