La Compagnie has retired its last 757-200, a 25 year old example, flying from Paris Orly to New York, Newark.
The aircraft was then flown in to Phoenix Goodyear Arizona for part out and scrap.
La Compagnie has actually survived and thrived much to the surprise of many.
Operating a business only boutique airline has had its ups and downs.
The expansion to London Luton didn’t last, but its biggest competition was the British Airways owned OpenSkies service, using an all business pair of 752’s and later even old BA 767-300ER’s in a more conventional layout, from Paris Orly.
Going up against them was a gamble in itself, but BA changed strategy two years ago and announced OpenSkies would cease and its staff and Orly facilities turned over to LEVEL.
After a year of being alone in its niche, La Compagnie has gone from strength to strength.
It’s learned to tweak its route offering to match the type of clientele it attracts – wealthy middle class travellers not just typical business travellers.
Next year for example it’s using its new A321neo’s to operate flights from Nice to New York between 3 and 5 times a week from May to September. Just in time for Cannes Film Festival, and all of the various motorsport events that pin on the F-1 Monaco Grand Prix just half a dozen miles down the road.
The A321Neo’s have an almost identical seat layout to the departed 757’s with a 76 seat business class (757 was only 74). The A321 however has full lie-flat bed seats which the 757 didn’t have.
La Compagnie has learnt about its customers – it knows that the summer months see many of them vanish. By flying to Nice Côte d’Azur it follows them to one of their favourite holiday haunts, keeping its pair of A321neo’s fully utilised.
Now business class and attention to detail for picky customers – and business class travellers are even worse than first class in my experience – goes hand in hand.
So while writing this I was bit surprised to see the airline hadn’t bothered to update its website to ditch the 757 information – a week after the last flight?
Another interesting aspect is the effect of Brexit. The UK’s seemingly never ending departure from the EU, now subject to an election and even a possible second referendum if the Labour Party win.
This has driven many of the big banks and financial companies to move staff to Frankfurt and Paris. These are the customers that BA used to ferry back and forth to New York in their all business A318 pair. It’s no coincidence that that’s now been cut to one aircraft (the other now flies for Titan) while La Compagnie has no issues filling its A321neo’s from Paris. As with all things – follow the money.