France’s LaCompagnie Shuts Premium U.K. Route on Brexit Concern

  • Paris-based airline to exit London-Newark, citing uncertainty
  • Carrier will add more Paris flights starting in October

French business class-only airline LaCompagnie announced plans to halt flights between London and the New York area as a result of the U.K.’s vote to quit the European Union, just days after British Airways said it was reducing its own premium service between the cities.

LaCompagnie will cease its four-times weekly operations between Luton, northwest of London, and Newark, New Jersey, on Sept. 25, after beginning the service in April last year, it said Monday in a statement. BA is reducing its own business-only operation from London City airport to New York John F. Kennedy International to one daily flight from two at the end of next month.

The French carrier is responding to a lack of long-term visibility following the Brexit vote, it said, even though the Luton flights had recently been operating with a healthy 77 percent load factor.

“Despite the positive returns the airline was getting from British and American customers on the route, the position of LaCompagnie remained fragile,” the airline said.

Fleet Ambitions

Capacity freed up by quitting the U.K. will be used to add a second daily flight to Newark from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport on some days starting Oct. 25, it said. Passengers who had been booked to fly to or from Luton will be reimbursed or can switch their flights to Paris at no extra cost.

LaCompagnie was founded in 2013 after raising 34 million euros ($38 million) from investors including A Plus Finance and private-equity funds. The carrier, which operates Boeing Co. 757 aircraft, has said it could seek to renew to the fleet and could even be interested in 787 Dreamliners from the U.S. planemaker, though no purchases have been made.

A number of business-only trans-Atlantic carriers have folded in the past decade, among them Silverjet Plc, Eos Airlines and MAXJet Airlines Inc. The failures haven’t dented enthusiasm for the concept, with start-up Odyssey Airlines -- whose executive team includes ex-Silverjet managers -- planning to begin flights from London City next year using Bombardier Inc. C Series jets.

A return ticket between City and New York Kennedy with BA costs about 3,650 pounds ($4,850), departing Nov. 7 and returning a week later, according to website figures.