French Blue to fly to Tahiti with new A359’s

There are dozens of new route announcements every week and I rarely comment on them because few are truely significant. This one however is a game changer for two airlines.

Air Tahiti Nui has operated its Papeete-LAX- Paris CDG route for over 15 years without a challenger or competition. Tahiti is effectively a part of European Mainland France in terms of government and this is to all intents and purposes a French domestic service. It does pick up around a third of its passengers in LAX.

Air Tahiti Nui is not far now from getting its first 787-9’s to replace its elderly A343’s.

French Blue is a mid-cost carrier, and its wisely chosen not to pick the exact same route. In fact it’s been quite clever in that choosing SFO as its stop, it picks up the wealthy San Francisco peninsula, Marin County, wine country towns like Napa and Sonoma, plus the San Jose market.

It denies these as LAX transfers to Air Tahiti Nui, creates a new market and stop over option that’s highly attractive, offers Air France direct lower cost competition, and a real alternative to Tahitians wanting to fly to  the US or on to France.

Inevitably it’s going to put pressure on the Paris and Tahiti pricing, and costs for both airlines, there are only so many customers both ends, but by using SFO, French Blue can pad its passenger numbers with a unique offering rather than compete at LAX for the same customers.