La Compagnie Suspends Operations Until September

Filed Under: La Compagnie

Update: La Compagnie extended the suspension of their flights until November 30, 2020. 

We’ve seen many airlines around the world suspend operations in recent months, and all business class airline La Compagnie was among them.

I wanted to provide an update on the airline, since this doesn’t seem like an ideal time to be running an airline that exclusively operates transatlantic flights (or I suppose any airline, for that matter).

La Compagnie’s suspended operations

In March 2020, La Compagnie suspended operations. The airline flies exclusively between New York and France, so given the travel restrictions that were put in place by President Trump at the time (not to mention the reduced demand), there was no commercially viable way for the airline to continue operations.

Initially the airline cancelled service for just a few weeks, though we’ve seen this extended several times now. In recent days La Compagnie’s schedule has been updated to reflect that the airline will cancel flights until October 31, 2020.

Based on the schedule filed as of now, La Compagnie will then resume:

  • Up to 2x daily Paris to Newark flights

Passengers on cancelled flights are technically entitled to refunds, though I haven’t heard too many firsthand reports about how the airline is handling that, given the issues we’ve seen at other airlines.

La Compagnie is also offering a flexible booking policy for future travel, clearly in an attempt to get people to book travel.

La Compagnie A321neo cabin

La Compagnie has come a long way

La Compagnie has come a long way since launching operations in 2014. Historically transatlantic all business class airlines simply haven’t succeeded — we’ve seen so many airlines try, and so many airlines fail.

When La Compagnie start flying, the airline was off to a rough start, but it has improved significantly since then:

  • The airline has had success focusing on its core Paris to New York market, as well as the seasonal Nice to New York market; La Compagnie executives realized expanding to other US cities and other European countries doesn’t make sense
  • La Compagnie recently swapped its two 757-200s with two A321neos, which feature fully flat business class seats, and free high speed Wi-Fi (not to mention better fuel economy)
  • La Compagnie offers a spectacularly good value, as it’s priced way below the competition in business class
  • As of 2018 the airline was number two in terms of revenue in the New York to Paris market, after Air France

La Compagnie A321neo

I’m really rooting for the airline, because it offers a unique value proposition that isn’t otherwise available in the market. The catch is that up until this year, the airline has only operated in “good” times.

Unlike some other airlines, presumably La Compagnie doesn’t have billions (or even hundreds of millions, or maybe not even tens of millions) of dollars on hand to make it through this situation if it lasts for a long time. Furthermore, the airline doesn’t have quite the leverage that global national carriers do in terms of getting government support.

At the start of the pandemic, executives at the airline said that La Compagnie was well positioned for a temporary grounding, though if demand remains suppressed for a really long time, I’d hate to think what this could mean for the airline.

La Compagnie A321neo business class seats

Bottom line

Obviously airlines around the globe are suffering right now, though I imagine the situation has to be even harder for a small airline that doesn’t have as much negotiating power with governments and lenders.

Furthermore, the market in which La Compagnie operates gives it very little flexibility to switch around its business model and adapt to the current situation. As of now, La Compagnie is expected to be grounded for nearly six months, though that could be extended even further, since there’s no end in sight for current restrictions.

The only other transatlantic all business class service that operated prior to the pandemic was British Airways’ Club World London City service, and the airline grounded that for several months, and frankly I’d be surprised to ever see it return.

What do you make of La Compagnie’s survival odds at this point?

Comments
  1. A most wonderful airline service atmosphere and flight. I started with them five years ago and sent all my friends to travel with La Compagnie. It is the best possible deal. I will miss them but I hope they will continue . I have tickets to fly with them now and am waiting for them to return
    Merci La Compagnie. Je vous admire et vous souhaite du success À bientôt ensemble

  2. uh @asdasd why should they be illegal, and there not a terrible airline in any case

  3. My wife and I flew round trip in October/November 2019, wow, La Compagnie attendants were friendly, professional and made a long flight seem like space travel. I have not stopped talking about to my friends and family! Other airlines have done well in both departments of great service and value-but La Compagnie has perfected it.

    We will see you again in 2020, and we thank you!

  4. I had quite a good experience with them on a recent trip to Europe in January and February.

    I got the flight at 1K US return, and it was great value for the money.

  5. Great value for the money. Hope they can weather the storm the idiot and chief created.

  6. Very sorry the first two reviews were so negative because my four years of experience with La Compagnie have been very, very satisfying. Now with the new planes, it can only get better. Several friends are also now using the company!

  7. Best value in the sky, in my opinion, and I absolutely LOVE the product. I fly La Compagnie 3 or 4 times a year between New York and Paris, so I HOPE they survive this catastrophe. The new 321Neo’s are terrific and the service in my opinion is comparable to Air France business class, which I fly occasionally with FF miles.

  8. Its an interesting airline, but I don’t see how they survive unless they can convince europe/US to allow travel to europe based on US geographical regions instead of wholesale blocking off the country.

  9. No update/guidance on refunds.

    I had a flight ticketed for travel in April that was cancelled. I had booked through an OTA as the fare was not available directly on the airline website.

    No issues canceling the ticket but after dozens of phone calls and emails with the OTA it seems like La Compagnie is stalling as much as possible to refund passengers for canceled flights.

    I guess I will file an EU 261 complaint but given the state of the airline I doubt that will make any difference in getting my money back.

  10. “..presumably La Compagnie doesn’t have billions (or even hundreds of millions, or maybe not even tens of millions) of dollars on hand to make it through this situation if it lasts for a long time.”

    Does any rational person think this isn’t going to last a long time? Give how the US government has horribly bungled the handing of the pandemic, coupled with the stupidity and behavior of the US public, I don’t think we will be allowed in to most countries for another year, at best. It’s going to take a new US administration + a year or maybe two to clean up the current disaster. Can this airline really hold out until 2022 or 2023? Seems doubtful to me.

  11. @Dick Bupkiss – your name says it all! Quit with the political comments. Yeah we could have shut down longer but it wouldn’t have changed the long term prognosis. The goal was to hold off so health care could handle illnesses and hopefully treatments would be better and both are true.

    Get over your self. COVID Isn’t going away ANYWHERE in the world until there is a vaccine or effective antibody treatment.

    Just wait until it flares again in Asia and Europe then talk again about the IS is at fault for our steps.

    BTW Europe is open for Americans in Croatia right now and I have tickets to Germany in November I fully expect to use. Keep whining though please and if you think Biden is the answer you are really suffering from TDS!!

  12. Read through the comments and you know why Merica is f*cked up. Some people are outright dumb.

  13. So @AC has tickets to Germany in November?
    Oops, bad move! No-one in Europe is going to welcome any American in the foreseeable future.
    Better see about cancelling those tickets now dude!
    Just quietly, Europeans seem to be enjoying not having the Ugly Americans (look it up) marauding through their countries this summer according to their media.
    I guess from the tone of your post you’d be in the “fake news” cohort though.

  14. Really unfortunate state of affairs for La Compagnie. It’s very sad because they were providing a very excellent service. Hopefully by reducing overhead their financial backers can weather this rough patch. I will be most sorry if they don’t make it.

  15. It all boils down to their financial backing at this point. Unlike the big airlines, they may have fewer resources to weather this financial meltdown but they also don’t have hundreds of planes and thousands of workers. I would imagine the biggest cost they have while idle is for the plane leases, storing the planes and whatever employees they have still on salary. I’ve always wanted to fly with La Compagnie so I hope they make it. I have read some mixed reviews on them over the last few years. Most of it seems like it has come from last-minute cancelled flights or booking issues, not the service.

  16. I had a flight with them on July 6. The refund process was seamless. I had booked using Chase Ultimate reward points and after calling the airline, the monetary portion was refunded to Chase and then the points were refunded to me- all within an hour.

  17. We have flown LaCompagnie, and before that l’Avion, the company founded by the same person, many times over the years. Their product has consistently gotten better and we really enjoyed traveling with them on the new planes. We had flights cancelled in March with returns in July. After eight weeks of waiting for refunds we finally contacted Chase and they refunded the money. Hopefully they will survive because for us landing at Orly is so much better than CDG. Newark isn’t great for us, but having only a fifteen minute taxi ride to our apartment in Paris after a long flight is definitely a plus.

  18. Stalled with refund indicating handling vouchers and rescheduling first. Filled DOT complaint. Chase Reserve got me my money back. SHAME!

  19. I hope they stay around. I flew them on their 757 back on their shortlived EWR-LTN route and it was a great experience. I have really wanted to get back flying them but have not had the chance to. They’re and excellent idea and I hope they can expand as time goes on.

  20. It would be a shame if they went out of business. They surprised everyone by sticking around this long. I was hoping to try their new A321 after a remarkably pleasant experience on their 757 a few years back. IMHO there’s a real need for what they offer – comfortable travel at a price point higher than coach but not as ridiculous as mainstream business class.

    With regard to politics – I always like to ask Trumpers how it feels to have a country’s border slammed shut in their face. The fact that much of the world is doing better than we are with Covid is a fact, and the differences between their approach and ours are also facts. Yes, they might get flare-ups and second waves etc, but that is better than having an out-of-control first wave that takes longer and kills more people than if appropriate measures had been taken. What we’re going through is a disgrace, and I think most Americans realize that it’s because of the complete absence of competent leadership at the top.

  21. I would not call them a terrible airline at all. Sure, the product may not be up to the standards of some airlines, but it’s still ahead of some AF planes.

    I got to fly with them round trip early this year (January/February), and for the price paid (around what a PY ticket was going for on other airlines – purchased during a sale) it represented an amazing value.

    Seats are exactly the same as the ones you’d get on many UA long haul 757s, 767s, 777s, and 787s.

    Food was decent, but not outstanding. Service was good for the most part – although one FA wasn’t the greatest.

    What I found absolutely remarkable was that boarding was complete in 10 minutes (if that) on the outgoing flight.

    Also, even though I had a seat towards the back on the flight going out, I did not find it noisy at all – very quiet plane.

    I would fly them again without hesitation

  22. April flight cancelled in March. I immediately asked for a refund. They stalled for 2 months. I contact Chase which resulted in an immediate credit and a decision in my favor 2 months after.

    Any chance they change their model to fly all business to a different city other than EWR?

  23. Bottom line…
    American’s want cheap,cheap,cheap or upgrades.
    They can tell you they want all this luxury. But, not willing to pay.

  24. La Compagnie owes me $10K. I took a voucher for $5k and requested a refund for the other $5k.
    they say the earliest they will pay back is December. Not looking good. How to get swindled for $10,000 with no recourse.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *