Looking for a nice flight to Nice? La Compagnie is launching seasonal non-stop service between Newark and the South of France this summer. The new route will operate for the all business-class carrier five times weekly from 5 May 2019 through to the end of October. Promotional fares start at $1200 return with regular fares starting at $1800 return today.
Delta Air Lines operates to Nice seasonally from JFK airport as well. Commercial Director Jean-Charles Perino believes the new service will prove additive to the market, however, rather than eroding Delta’s share, “The goal is not to cannibalize Delta but to stimulate the market.” He also believes that the summer season presents a unique opportunity for the service. The nonstop flights are generally expensive in the summer, even in economy class. La Compagnie hopes to siphon a few of those customers “ready to pay a few hundred euros more” for the premium experience. Indeed, for many travel dates next summer Delta’s economy fares appear similar to La Compagnie’s business class option.
La Compagnie’s limited fleet – just a pair of 757s today – precluded much in the way of creativity for its route network. The London service proved unsuccessful and the company consolidated back to Paris in late 2016, just prior to its merger with XL Airways. A year ago, however, the company announced an order for two A321LR aircraft to replace the 757s. The first of those new planes is expected to arrive in April 2019 but the 757s won’t disappear immediately. The Nice route will be operated on the 757 while Paris switches over to the newer Airbus plane for service.
That shift makes sense from both a product and an operational perspective. The A321LR offers true lie-flat seats compared to the angle-flat option on the 757s. It also will offer inflight wifi on board, something La Compagnie promised at its service launch in 2014 but never did install on the 757s. Keeping the better product on the more premium route, the one with more competition, gives La Compagnie a better chance of selling the seats. And with a 5x weekly service to Nice the older 757 can take an occasional day off as needed to maintain schedule integrity.
Eventually the carrier must decide how hard to push the 757s as they approach retirement. Ordering additional A321LR aircraft is also an option, of course. The XL Airways side of the company also expects to launch more point-to-point services between France and the New York City area with A321LRs. Some flexibility in where the frames end up based on market demand should be expected.
For travelers who wish to fly on the two days per week La Compagnie does not operate the nonstop service the carrier provides an alternate one-stop itinerary via Paris-Orly. The short hop within France is operated by easyJet as part of the Worldwide by easyJet program. La Copmagnie joined that interline offering in September 2017, adding a number of easyJet destinations as bookable options. The easyJet segments are not business class, obviously, but it does open up interesting options for passengers looking to get a decent sleep on the long-haul and fly economy class on the shorter hop.