Air Austral And Corsair Planning A Joint Venture

Due to the global health crisis and the ongoing travel restrictions it has prompted, French carriers Air Austral and Corsair are hoping to join forces on services between mainland France and destinations in the Indian Ocean. With the announcement made on August 17th, let’s take a closer look at this potential partnership and what it could mean for both airlines.

Corsair’s first A330neo
Corsair operates an all-Airbus A330 fleet. Photo: Airbus

Discussions have been initiated

Air Austral and Corsair have decided to “initiate discussions” in the pursuit of a joint venture on routes between European France (known as “la Métropole”) and the Indian Ocean.

The two airlines compete on service between these two parts of the world, with Corsair operating between Paris Orly and Marseille to Saint-Denis (La Réunion) and Air Austral flying between Paris Charles de Gaulle and Saint-Denis (La Réunion).

“This large-scale project will allow the deployment of an enhanced service offering for the benefit of passengers in the Indian Ocean, while improving the economic profitability of operations through the pooling of resources and the implementation of synergies.” – Corsair statement

Air Austral used to hold three Airbus A220-300 aircraft in addition to its current Boeing 737 and 777. Photo: Airbus

What’s in it for customers?

Corsair’s statement goes on to say that Air Austral and Corsair hope to unite “their respective strengths and assets” to develop an offering that will “generate advantages and benefits for customers.” These include:

  • Reinforced flight program
  • Access to the two Paris airports (CDG and ORY)
  • Diversity of departure and arrival time slots in Paris
  • Richer connections thanks to the combined networks of the two companies
  • Extended and more competitive fares
  • Improved freight services
air austral corsair routes
The long-haul services of the two airlines are visualized here, combined with parts of Air Austral’s short-haul network out of Saint-Denis. Photo:

This joint venture could therefore see codesharing become a key part of the deal, with Air Austral customers able to connect through Paris onwards to other destinations in the Corsair network. This would include Montreal and the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe.

At the same time, Corsair customers would have an easier time connecting to destinations within Air Austral’s network around the Indian Ocean (Mauritius, Madagascar, Seychelles, Comoros) and in Africa (the major cities of Johannesburg in South Africa and Nairobi in Kenya).

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Uniting against the competition

This proposed deal seems to be a good idea considering the amount of competition we see on service between Paris and Réunion. A quick google search results in the following airlines operating between the two destinations:

  • Air France
  • French bee
  • Air Caraibes
  • and of course, Air Austral and Corsair

With so much capacity on this one route, it would be wise to join forces and coordinate schedules and flights. This would allow both carriers to redeploy some of their capacity to other parts of their respective networks where opportunities exist.

Since this proposal is not a merger, it will preserve the identity and independence of each airline. It should be made clear, however, that the deal is not yet final. Corsair’s statement notes that it must be submitted to “staff representative bodies” as well as France’s Competition Authority.

What do you think of Air Austral and Corsair joining forces? Let us know by leaving a comment!