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This ‘Business Class-Only’ Airline Demonstrates the Viability of the Model

The industry doubted it could work, but La Compagnie CEO Christian Vernet has proven them wrong, celebrating a decade of success. Here’s how he did it.

On Monday evening, the French boutique airline La Compagnie marked its 10-year anniversary with a chic reception at the Amélie Maison D’art gallery in Soho, New York. Clients, investors, travel agents, and reporters gathered in stylish urban summer attire to mingle with CEO Christian Vernet, enjoying Dominique Ansel’s cronuts and flutes of champagne.

The atmosphere was celebratory and somewhat vindicated, given the initial skepticism when the airline launched in 2014 with a Boeing 757-200 flying from Newark to Paris. Now, La Compagnie exclusively operates Airbus A321neos, with additional routes to Nice (2019) and Milan (2022). When they began, the ‘business class-only’ market seemed doomed. MGM Grand Air went out of business in 1995, MaxJet Airways filed for Chapter 11 in 2007, and both EOS Airlines and Silverjet closed in 2008, citing the recession. More recently, PrivatAir, which provided all-business-class flights for major airlines including Lufthansa, folded in 2018.

The common struggle was the high operational costs of commercial aviation, with revenues often falling short. Prices for new aircraft have soared; a used Boeing 757-200 costs around $11 million, depending on maintenance, while a new Airbus A321neo is about $62 million, according to aviation analytics company Cirium. (Cirium notes that bulk purchases can reduce this price).

di Il Quotidiano Online

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