Low cost long haul airline La Compagnie announced yesterday that it is closing its Luton to New York service on 24th September.
The airline is blaming the new post-Brexit business environment for the move. This is, without a doubt, a contributing factor although the service did seem to be struggling to fill its planes with higher yielding passengers.
It was selling seats for £1,000 return, occasionally less, and those were widely available. For the leisure market, British Airways has been selling New York in Club World for as low as £1,199 in recent sales and the BA schedule is clearly more attractive. Business travellers tend not to book their tickets in sales, however, so the fault must lie with a failure to penetrate the corporate market successfully.
We reviewed La Compagnie in July. Whilst slightly chaotic, Anika was impressed by the food and service and felt it compared favourably to World Traveller Plus or Premium Economy on BA or Virgin for a similar price point.
The current plan is to transfer the London aircraft to Paris. This will allow the Paris service to double up to two flights per day from October. Whether this works, given that the company is competing against the British Airways Open Skies operation, remains to be seen.
Passengers already booked on La Compagnie out of Luton are being offered a refund or a transfer to the Paris flight. La Compagnie will pay for a connecting flight from London to Paris. For anyone travelling over the next few weeks, the latter is likely to be the only reasonable option as the cost of rebooking at short-ish notice is likely to involve paying substantially more than £1,000 return.
La Compagnie joins the lengthy list of companies who have failed to make ‘all business class’ flights to New York work. With British Airways announcing last week that it is scrapping one of its two daily services from London City, the writing may be on the wall entirely – until the next time an entrepreneur gets his hands on an old plane ….