While the Airbus A350 isn’t a rarity on operations across the Atlantic Ocean, its services with French bee provide a unique offering. The low-cost carrier holds four units of the widebody within its fleet, heading to the likes of New York, San Francisco, and soon Los Angeles with the type. Simple Flying recently caught up with the Paris Orly-based airline’s CEO, Marc Rochet, about the plane’s advantages on flights to the United States.
Overseas France is a core part of French bee’s network. However, with Papeete, Tahiti over 16,000 km (8,600 NMI) away from the company’s base, it was logical that the airline set up a presence across the United States to stop at while on the way to the Pacific destination. Nonetheless, French bee has also shown that it is able to push the boundaries with the A350 and head directly to the capital of French Polynesia.
So, with a US network under its belt, the operator has been seeing impressive results across the pond. Even during the ban on general European travelers to the US amid the global health crisis, the airline was seeing a load factor of over 50% on its New York route, which was launched in the summer. This is a notable figure considering the carrier was primarily only serving one side of the market during this period.
With New York now seeing consistent traffic both ways and French bee’s Tahiti via San Francisco route relaunched, the carrier will undoubtedly have no problem packing the cabins of its widebodies in unrestricted conditions.
Same aircraft, different offering
While French bee isn’t the only A350 operator flying between Europe and the US, it is the only low-cost commercial airline to do so. This is a point that Rochet is proud of and believes can give his carrier a competitive edge, even when up against the operator’s compatriots, such as Air France.
“If you want to come to France, you would also want to be careful about how you will spend your money. We will be significantly cheaper than our competitors. We are a new airline, and we are flying the best aircraft, the A350. We are a smart-cost airline, and you will benefit from the money you will be saving by flying with French bee to spend on restaurants and travel plans in France. You will not be flying on a luxury flatbed seat and such. But, what we will offer is the best value for money and allow you to travel to Paris under great conditions. Save your money and have a good time in France.”
Notably, another low-cost carrier, JetBlue, recently launched services to Europe. The New York outfit performs its flights to London with the A321LR. While this aircraft can provide considerable comfort for a narrowbody on a long-haul mission, Rochet emphasizes that the A350’s features are on another level on transatlantic voyages.
“We are a smart-cost airline. We want to offer the passenger a very good fare. We have no business class. We have only economy and premium economy seats, but we want to give our passengers value for their money and not to compromise on comfort and leave them tired on an eight or nine-hour flight. The A350 holds new technology. It’s a carbon-fiber plane, and the management of the air system on board is totally different. There are two airplanes in this field to be clear – the A350 and the Boeing 787. All the other ones, including the ones we had before, such as the A330, have old technology.”
Another key benefit that the A350 has is its cargo capacity. This aspect is something that has been crucial amid the fluctuating passenger activity in the market as the pandemic continues to cause concerns across the industry. The airline has adapted and carried essential supplies during these challenging times.
Regardless, it’s not only the aircraft that French bee values. The firm recognizes that the plane complements other factors that are found across the operation to provide an enjoyable experience for its customers.
“We are a young company that has started from scratch. We have very young cabin crew members and they are highly motivated people. All of them are totally fluent in English. This is the kind of thing that a known competitor airline can do, but it’s very difficult for them to match. So, we think we’re on the good side of the competition.”
US expansions and fleet additions
French bee’s A350-900 aircraft will be heading to another Californian destination from April 2022 amid the launch of Los Angeles flights. This initiative will boost the carrier’s presence across the West Coast, enabling another gateway in the US.
Altogether, it’s only the beginning for French bee and the A350. The A350-1000 will join the fold before the end of the year, with another one expected to arrive by next summer. The airline has only been operating for three years under its current name and for five years since commencing under the moniker of French Blue. So, we can expect additional expansions with both the -900 and -1000 this decade.
What are your thoughts about French bee and its Airbus A350 services? What do you make of the prospects of the type in the airline’s fleet? Let us know what you think of the carrier’s overall operations in the comment section.