November 30, 2021

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A price war has broken out on flights between Italy and the US and Corriere.it

From Milan to New York, it’s all in business, with fewer passengers and at 15-20% lower prices than more convenient competitors, and even -72% over more expensive competitors. They all use smaller planes, unrelated to the double aisle or two-story aisle. It is enough to get to the Big Apple at lower costs and sell tickets that, when booked in time, are about 1,500 euros (round trip, taxes included), net of the promotional period (until November 23) at 1,200 euros.

Christian Vernet, number one at La Compagnie
Christian Vernet, number one at La Compagnie

Compagnie, a French airline born in 2014, focuses on northern Italy and from next April 15 Malpensa-Newark, one of the airports of the US capital, opens with the Airbus A321neo: it is an efficient aircraft that is increasingly used by low-cost companies because it consumes less , but instead of the classic Transalpine’s 230 seats, there are 76 armchairs that convert into beds, screens for in-flight entertainment, Wi-Fi, and other amenities. “It’s a bit like flying in a private jet,” he says in an interview. Courier service Christian Vernet, number one at La Compagnie. “The boarding procedure is very fast, in ten minutes you will all be on the plane – he reckons – and these days, with the coronavirus, the spacing between seats is an added guarantee.”


Milan and New York in business for 1,500 euros: a price war broke out on flights between Italy and the United States

Expand working relations also in Milan, after Paris, but at a time when everyone is considered “paralyzed” by the epidemic.
“Business traffic will be affected as large and medium-sized companies have decided to reduce business travel, preferring virtual meetings over Teams, Webex and Zoom. But we believe we have the right product not only for this range, but also for those who go on vacation.”

When did you decide to focus on Milan?
“In the middle of 2020 we started studying potential routes, we saw the map and it was natural to think about Malpensa-New York.”

why?
“According to the volume of business traffic in Europe, Milan ranks third after London and Paris.”

So, is Milan interesting only for business?
“Not only. It is also a fun aquarium for entertaining and favelas, that is, those who commute to meet relatives and friends, in New Jersey and in general on the American East Coast.”

The Milan – New York route is difficult: the three major American airlines (Delta, American, United) and Emirates are already flying there, and at that time there will also be ETA.
“We are used to competition, somewhat the same in Paris where we have 22-23% of the business market on the way to New York. We have the right product, and even more so in the post-Covid world.”

Milan and New York in business for 1,500 euros: a price war broke out on flights between Italy and the United States

By what logic?
“On board our aircraft there are 76 seats, all for business, that can be reclined into beds, with adequate spacing, without the approximately 240 passengers that normally fit an Airbus A321neo in a fully economy cabin. Not only that: with our flights, every action is quick, boarding takes a maximum of ten minutes. We note all these characteristics that our customers love.”

So do passengers now want to travel with few people?
“It is. They don’t want the gatherings not only for the cause of Covid but also because the procedures are quick.”

But I repeat: the competition is fierce in Milan.
“We are small, but we have a reasonable cost base. We don’t want to compete with Emirates.”

Emirates does not compete, however, by checking the return flight in the second half of April 2022, your business costs 1,507 euros, which is the equivalent of 1,949 euros. The difference is not that huge.
“It is normal for companies already in place to react to the newcomer by lowering their prices, but I can tell you that there are enough business travelers per day who are able to fill the seats offered for sale by the various companies on the Malpensa-New York Road. In any case they will never be able to offer our rates. We offer a different product: We offer an experience close to that of a private jet. Not to mention the characteristics of the aircraft we use.”

Milan and New York in business for 1,500 euros: a price war broke out on flights between Italy and the United States

what does it mean?
It is a new generation of Airbus A321neo, single-aisle and fuel-efficient aircraft. Unlike the larger Airbus A380s that use Emirates, the A330 or the Boeing 777/787 from other airlines.”

What kind of traveler do you plan to pick up?
“In the Milan-New York section, we’re thinking about 50% business and 50% leisure/Vfr because there’s also a diaspora segment.”

How are sales going?
“I would say OK for the past 4-5 weeks and without starting to announce the track yet.”

Are you considering agreements with other airlines, perhaps able to fill your plane with customers from other cities?
Yes, with easyJet at Malpensa and Vueling at Paris-Orly.

That is, for example, will a Neapolitan be able to fly with easyJet to Malpensa from April and then fly with La Compagnie to New York?
“Exactly. And with only one reservation ».

What is the main risk you see for your business model?
“Expensive for kerosene. If it continues to rise, then obviously we can’t even offer these low prices.”

Another potential issue with the fleet: You have two planes. How can you guarantee operation because the aircraft may have some problems?
“Meanwhile, the Airbus A321neo has proven to be so reliable in recent years that it hasn’t given us any problems. In any case, we have contingency plans in place in case something happens: the passengers will be re-protected with another aircraft or in other companies.”

Milan and New York in business for 1,500 euros: a price war broke out on flights between Italy and the United States

Are you planning to increase the fleet?
“In 2022, the target for the entire sector is to return to profitability. In the period from 2023 to 2025, we do not rule out taking other planes, we are looking with interest at the Airbus A321XLR that covers greater distances to fly outside New York or to start flights to other European cities.”

The A321 is used on transatlantic routes by you, by low-cost American JetBlue, by Portuguese tap. This is the future: smaller planes?
“I think this single-aisle aircraft will be used more and more between two parts of the ocean for point-to-point routes not only for cost reasons, but also to reduce emissions.”

You will fly to Malpensa. The A321neo can also move in Linate, without the restrictions of larger aircraft: would you be interested in operating connections with the USA from the city airport of Milan?
“Sure, that would be great. But Linate has limitations by law (Delrio’s Decree, so) which bans direct flights with destinations outside the European Union. I sincerely hope that this limit is removed.”

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