La Compagnie will add two new cities to its route map this fall: Tel Aviv, Israel, and Milan, Italy. Milan will see nonstop service to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), while Tel Aviv will be the recipient of one-stop service to Newark via Paris Orly Airport (ORY). To gain some insight into the new routes, Simple Flying spoke with Christian Vernet, President of La Compagnie.
Milan: an early and easy choice
Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) will see four flights per week to Newark from November 29th onboard La Compagnie. According to Mr. Vernet, this was one of the earliest decisions for the airline to add capacity.
First, La Compagnie knew it wanted to service any new European out of New York. Newark (EWR), just across the river from New York in New Jersey, is the best lower-cost option for La Compagnie’s operations. According to Mr. Vernet, Newark was what mattered:
“We started wondering whereby we could reposition our capacity over the months to come. But still with one key point be serving New York because we call New York as our gateway to the rest of the world; New York is central to our operations.”
After looking at Newark, the airline then focused on the changing competitive landscape. In particular, it started to look at what other airlines had done, or were going to do, in the post-crisis world:
“So we looked through the different cities in Europe…looking at destinations to support the pre-crisis volume of passengers in a business class. [We looked at] the state of competition: who werethe actors, who are the actors, which actors died or resigned from the destination or which actors with limited capacity moving away from Airbus A380s to Boeing 777s or 787s. So meaning, what kind of impact the supply would have on the remaining capacity. Milan came – quite rapidly – as an answer. By June 2020, we had selected Milan as our next route to serve on a permanent basis.”
Milan to New York is an intensely competitive market. All three major US airlines, plus Italian flag carrier, Alitalia, fly the route. American, Alitalia, and Delta service New York-JFK from Milan, while United flies to Newark. In addition. Emirates flies a fifth-freedom route between JFK and Milan.
This route also formerly had competition in the form of Air Italy. This formerly Qatar Airways-backed carrier is no longer in operation. In addition, Alitalia’s future on the route remains to be seen. Italy continues to debate a new carrier for the country, which could replace Alitalia.
Altogether, La Compagnie saw potential in Milan and expected that the destination would be successful for the carrier. As both a center of commerce and leisure, the airline should be able to fill up its 76-seat cabin with travelers.
The other thing to recognize is that airlines like Air France and Lufthansa have cut their Airbus A380 capacity to Europe, meaning fewer seats available for connections. Some customers who would have connected to Milan previously could turn to La Compagnie’s nonstop operations.
Where Tel Aviv fits in
La Compagnie has looked at Tel Aviv in the past. As Mr. Vernet discussed:
“We had looked at Tel Aviv as a potential case quite some time ago, and we did reactivate and refurbish our analysis of that market. It confirmed, having discuss with people and commercial entities in Tel Aviv, that our product , basically the A321neo, a very specific setting of 76 full business class [cabin] aircraft, would be a very good offering for the Israeli market, which is quite demanding, and appreciative of quality.”
Tel Aviv also complements the airline’s services, according to Mr. Vernet. While it is well-known for serving France from the US, it also needs to serve French customers. Israel is a popular leisure and business destination, though that market is also incredibly competitive.
Serving Tel Aviv as either an option for connecting in Paris for New York travelers and as a flight between France and Israel is a win-win for the carrier. The mix of connecting and originating travelers will help keep the airline’s planes full, even amid the incredible competition on flying between Europe and Israel.
How and when to fly the new routes
Flights between Newark (EWR) and Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) in Tel Aviv will launch on July 21st and run seasonally through October 30th. This route will fly three times per week with a 90 minute stop in Paris. Passengers will be able to get off in Paris, and new passengers will be able to board the aircraft.
Next up is the flight between Newark and Milan. This will run from November 29th, 2021, with four flights per week. The reason this is starting a little late in the year is, according to Mr. Vernet, as a method of efficiently and practicality serving the market.
The airline is still dealing with the fallout of the crisis on its finances and has to be prudent with capacity. Plus, by November, there is also hope that the European travel ban could be lifted, allowing the company to fly more passengers back to the US.
Are you going to fly La Compagnie on any of these routes? Which one are you most excited about? What are your thoughts on Milan and Tel Aviv? Let us know in the comments!