La Compagnie’s Swanky Australia Charter Flight

Filed Under: La Compagnie

French all business class airline, La Compagnie, has just operated a pretty awesome charter flight.

La Compagnie’s cricket charter

The Australian Men’s Cricket Team is headed to the UK for some upcoming matches (apparently those are still a thing). While in past years the team would simply use commercial flights, that’s significantly more complicated this year, given travel restrictions.

As a result, the team has chartered a plane. And not just any plane, but one of La Compagnie’s A321neos, featuring just 76 business class seats.

La Compagnie A321neo cabin

As you might guess, it was quite a journey for the A321neo to get to & from Australia. The A321neo with the registration code F-HBUZ was parked in Paris, while the team was in Perth. In order to position, La Compagnie flew:

  • From Paris Orly to Mumbai on August 19, which took 9hr3min
  • From Mumbai to Perth on August 20, which took 8hr42min

La Compagnie business class seats

The team was headed to East Midlands Airport in the UK, and the routing was even more complicated, given the headwinds the entire way. The La Compagnie A321neo flew:

  • From Perth to Colombo on August 23, which took 7hr39min
  • From Colombo to Dubai on August 24, which took 4hr3min
  • From Dubai to East Midlands on August 24, which took 7hr39min

As you can see, the team spent over 19 hours in the air, and that’s not even accounting for all the refueling time. Nonetheless I’d say that’s a pretty comfortable and awesome way to get between Australia and the UK.

What’s going on with La Compagnie?

For those wondering what’s going on with this boutique airline, La Compagnie suspended scheduled operations in mid-March, given the international travel restrictions in place. Operating a route between New York and Paris doesn’t make much sense when only very few people can take these flights.

Since then the airline has delayed its restart a few times. Right now the company’s schedule shows flights resuming as of September 16, though that seems highly optimistic, especially if current reciprocal travel restrictions aren’t lifted.

La Compagnie A321neo departing Paris Orly

This cricket team charter was the first “real” flight the airline has operated since the pandemic started. On March 18 the airline operated its last flight from Newark to Paris, and then on June 16 the airline operated a 44 minute flight to & from Paris Orly. Given that this was just under the 90 day mark from when flights were suspended, maybe that was to keep pilots active.

La Compagnie offers an incredible value proposition, and I hope that the airline makes it. One has to wonder how much longer the airline can afford not to fly, especially when stuck with lease payments for two new A321neos, which can’t be cheap.

La Compagnie A321neo

You can see my recent review of La Compagnie’s A321neo business class here.

Bottom line

La Compagnie operated its first “real” flight in over five months, though it wasn’t a scheduled one. Rather the airline operated a charter flight for the Australian cricket team. The airline flew from Paris to Perth via Mumbai, and them from Perth to East Midlands via Colombo and Dubai.

Is this a cool charter, or a cool charter? šŸ˜‰

(Tip of the hat to Executive Traveller)

Comments
  1. I have fond memories of La Compagnie flying them on their 757 on their short lived EWR-LTN route. I hope they can survive this crisis so I can try out their new aircraft and product!

  2. Will the cricket players be quarantined for 2 weeks in England and then once again when they return to Oz? Or perhaps they are considered “essential workers” exempt from the quarantine rules?

  3. @Joe, no they won’t be quarantined. Australia is on the list of countries deemed safe for entry into the UK, meaning you do not require quarantine. The notion that the entire world should be locked down until further notice is not feasible. Some form of life has to get back to normal.

  4. Thanks Nick, but what about Australia? Their policy says everyone will be quarantined for 14 days. Or do these batsmen have something up their sleeve?

  5. @Nick, however the team has to remain in a “bubble” to ensure they do not contract Covid-19 from an outsider. So they will be staying in a specific hotel and only travelling to and from training or match venues. Likely to be training at Derbyshire CCC and staying on site at the Travelodge next to the ground. At least when they start playing they move to the Hilton at the Ageas Bowl on the outskirts of Southampton, followed by the Hilton Garden Inn at Old Trafford in Manchester.

  6. Ha Funny, new something was up as just two nights ago I flew in to PER from GET and wondered what the La Compagnie plane was doing there, after convincing myself that infact it was a La Compagnie A321!

  7. The team will have to quarantine when the come back, although I assume (hope) theyā€™ll not be included in the arrival cap on the day they return.

    Thereā€™s 18,000 Aussies trying to get home right now and only a handful of seats a day due to the arrival caps.

  8. What an outrage. Just more proof that everybody is equal, but some people are more equal than others.

    You know the rules are arbitrary and capricious when they are applied differently based upon people’s status in society. They have locked Australians in Australia, and everybody else out, and turned Melbourne into an open air prison. But if you play cricket, you can come and go as you please. In New York you must quarantine for 14 days if you have travelled from California and many other states, which prevents most people who follow the rules from traveling, but exceptions are granted if you’re a celebrity or pop star.

    If the virus won’t travel with cricketers, or doesn’t pose a danger when they travel, why not give non-cricketers engaged in more normal (and I would say more important) pursuits the same rights?

  9. Cricket, like many sports, is in dire financial trouble. This hastily thrown together series of short-format matches is between the 2 biggest rivals, and really is about tv audience and generating cash. Itā€™s not part of the usual schedule.
    There is some controversy in Australia about exemptions for travel for ā€œessential purposesā€, after it transpired that a millionaire was given approval to fly to Europe to collect his new luxury yacht ( ..and other celebrities /connected types getting exemptions, inbound and out). But ordinary people are denied trips to see dying family members.
    At least the cricket people seem to have it under control

  10. Flying in or out to see your daughter’s wedding is not essential. A bunch of grown men playing a children’s game is. Panis e circenses.

    I never thought I would see Australia and New Zealand laid so low, or its people so meek and complaint in the face of a cruel and arbitrary government.

  11. @Barney- Qantas is not Australiaā€™s national airline. Itā€™s not owned by the government or even wholly AUSTRALIAN owned. It couldnā€™t have flown the route anyway since all the fleet that are capable of flying this route are in long term storage.
    @Mak – as far as I know, they will need to complete 14 days quarantine when back in Perth. Arriving in the Uk, they are not they do get a free pass, which is more a comment about how badly the UK has handled the pandemic.

  12. As others have said, the cricket teams (both Australia and England) will be in a bubble the whole time with no contact with the rest of the country. The Sky Sport team did a segment on how it’s working for the current test series between England and Pakistan for the media covering them who are in a similar but separate bubble to the teams’, confined to the cricket ground and their hotel. They described it as like being locked in boarding school.

    They are adopting a similar model to what Australian professional sports leagues have for their current domestic competitions. Each team is in a bubble, some with families some without, where they don’t have contact with the wider community. Many teams have relocated so there are clusters of teams in a few states. They are allowed limited travel between their bubble locations and have exemptions to some state border quarantine rules as long as they stick to strict isolation protocols agreed by the respective state health ministries, including using only charter flights. (No teams are in Victoria nor are they allowed to travel there.) A few team members and even one coach have had to go into separate quarantine for two weeks before being able to rejoin their teams. Unlike the exemption @Paolo mentioned for the guy to collect his yacht, I have seen no pushback about these sport arrangements and don’t expect any for the cricketers.

    Unlike other travellers, I expect that when they return the whole team will probably be able to go into a team quarantine camp somewhere rather than the standard hotel quarantine.

  13. @2paxfly if you donā€™t consider Qantas as Australiaā€™s national carrier please give us the details of what airline you consider is ! Ownership is irrelevant Jetstar ? Virgin Australia ( who suspended all overseas operate) ? Fly Tiwi? Qantas is the flag carrier and the only global airline ( albeit restricted now) and by default a national flag carrier

  14. lol what are you on about @paolo? a “hastily thrown together series”? This series has been scheduled since the schedule came out, before covid.

  15. @Paolo – this series was planned more than three years in advance. Most cricket series involving the big nations (aka India, England, South Africa, Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, New Zealand) are planned years in advance since the cricket season is effectively all year round.

  16. I sure hope La Compagnie survives. They still owe me a refund for two cancelled RT between EWR and NCE.

  17. @Paolo,

    the series wasn’t hastly thrown together. The ODI’s were scheduled originally in July, and I bought my tickets in November for the games in Southampton and Bristol. As the games will no longer be played in front of an audience, refunds were paid about two weeks ago to those who didn’t want to roll their tickets over to next year’s England v Sri Lanka ODI’s at those venues.

    I know there was also a couple of England v Australia T20 games scheduled as well, but I’m not interested in the “hit and giggle” format of the game.

    However, I think you are right about the games being played to meet TV broadcast commitments. Rants like those of the CEO of Australia’s Seven Network mean that sports administrators are under notice that the broadcast fees will dry up very quickly if they don’t supply content.

    Bringing it back to an aviation theme, I’m fascinated that they flew into East Midlands, which is the UK’s equivalent of Memphis – commercial passenger flights during the day and during the night, the hub for DHL, UPS, TNT and Royal Mail freight flights. Not too far up the M1 motorway from La Compagnie’s former destination at Luton.

  18. 2Paxfly – There’s no logical reason to quarantine a cricket team from an area with virtually no infections on arrival in the UK… Nor is it any kind of elitism etc. as the same applies to all Australians.

    If they were flying from Melbourne you may have a point. WA has something like 2 cases per week.

  19. “Thereā€™s no logical reason to quarantine a cricket team from an area with virtually no infections on arrival in the UK”..Agree..ā€¦yet flying from Thailand ..one of the Worlds safest countries with 59 deaths…against the UKs.. 50,000…is considered …what dangerous..?…work that one out…?

  20. @Rezzadogs: ‘Bringing it back to an aviation theme, Iā€™m fascinated that they flew into East Midlands, which is the UKā€™s equivalent of Memphis ā€“ commercial passenger flights during the day and during the night, the hub for DHL, UPS, TNT and Royal Mail freight flights. Not too far up the M1 motorway from La Compagnieā€™s former destination at Luton.’

    The team were going into a hotel at Derby for their preparation for the two series, so that would have been the reason that airport was chosen.

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