While we’ve seen plenty of new airline routes during the pandemic, most have been within the U.S. — and operated by domestic carriers.
But Thursday’s news is different.
Paris-based La Compagnie, which operates jets exclusively outfitted with business class, just unveiled two new long-haul services launching over the coming months. The carrier also reaffirmed its plans to continue and restart service on two of its previously served routes.
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The first new flight to launch, from Newark (EWR) to Tel Aviv (TLV), will take off on July 21, and operate seasonally through Oct. 30. The route will be operated three times per week and will include a 90-minute ground stop in Paris-Orly (ORY).
Though La Compagnie is marketing this is a completely new route, in reality, the carrier is only launching new flights between ORY and TLV. The carrier will use its existing EWR to Paris flight to connect onwards to Israel. Though details about the transit experience weren’t immediately available, flyers will likely need to disembark and clear an enhanced security screening before boarding the flight to Israel.
The second route, from Newark to Milan (MXP), marks a new long-haul service for the airline. It’ll launch Nov. 29 with four weekly flights.
Both of the new flights will be operated by an Airbus A321neo. For those not familiar, La Compagnie is an all-business-class airline. Its single-aisle Airbus jets have just 76 fully lie-flat pods, arranged in a 2-2 configuration. You can read more about the airline’s A321s in our detailed review.
In addition to exclusively offering business class, La Compagnie is also known for its affordable fares. Flights to TLV start at $2,000 round trip, while the Milan service will start at $1,700 round trip. Relative to the legacy carriers that often charge $4,000 or more for business class on these routes, flying with La Compagnie is a relative bargain.
Of course, the upside to flying with a legacy carrier is protection in case of irregular operations, as well as their partnership in a global alliance. La Compagnie is independent and doesn’t partner with any U.S. airline.
While the TLV flight is slated to begin in roughly a month, the Milan service has a longer booking window. As such, it’s important to consider that the airline’s plans could always change, especially due to the pandemic and considering the fact that the carrier has just two planes.
In addition to the new service announced on Thursday, the airline has already restarted flights to Paris-Orly (ORY). La Compagnie grounded its fleet at the outset of the pandemic, and roughly 15 months later, it resumed operations with two weekly flights from EWR to ORY. Service resumed on June 12, with the first four flights achieving a 100% load factor, according to an airline spokesperson. The airline’s planning to increase the frequency throughout 2021.
In addition to resuming ORY service, La Compagnie will resume flights to Nice (NCE) on July 2 with three weekly flights. This route launched in 2019 but didn’t operate in 2020 due to the pandemic. The carrier told TPG that it operated at a 79% load factor in 2019.
To celebrate the announcement, all promotional tickets are changeable and refundable at no cost up to 24 hours before the flight. Of course, availability for the discount fares varies, and one-way itineraries are pricing at more than half the cost of the round-trip. You can purchase flights directly on the carrier’s website.
Despite La Compagnie’s unique business model, it’ll face some significant competitive headwinds on its new routes, especially the service to Milan. This popular route from the New York area is already served by the U.S. “Big 3,” as well as Alitalia and Emirates, which flies it as a fifth-freedom service with onward connections to Dubai.
As for Israel, the carrier could find its venture successful, especially among the strong local market on both ends of the route. However, all Big 3 U.S. airlines, as well as Israel-based El Al, operated multiple daily nonstops between New York and Tel Aviv.
Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy
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