Frantz Yvelin is the co-founder and CEO
of the all-business-class, transatlantic airline La Compagnie, which celebrated its
two-year anniversary in July. News editor
Johanna Jainchill spoke to Yvelin, who is
a licensed pilot, about the airline’s success
against the odds as well as the current challenges of doing business in Europe.
Q: No other all-business-class, transatlantic airline lasted very long.
Why does La Compagnie have
A: We’ve carved out our
niche at La Compagnie
by offering a comfortable business class at
affordable prices. In addition, the timing was
prime when we started
our service between
New York and Paris
fares were at an all-time
high and the capacity
Q: How is La Compagnie different from
the failed all-business-class airlines, such
as Eos and Silverjet?
A: From the get-go, we have controlled
the essential aspects of the business in-house, while other services have been
outsourced to vendors, which allowed us
to keep the pricing competitive. We have
always included the travel trade as one of
our important distribution channels and
collaborated closely by providing a commission structure as well as enabling the
GDSs to provide our
flights through this
vital sales channel.
Q: Are you concerned about the
that Brexit could
have on your Lon-don-Newark service?
A: We are still determining how Brexit will
impact the airline. Our operations between
London and New York are directly benefit-
ting from the single-sky agreement within
the European Union and from the open-
skies agreement between the EU and the
U.S. We are evaluating how this regulatory
framework might change and monitoring
the evolution of the currency exchange rate
and the impact on the market.
Q: Do you think the terror attacks in
France will have any impact on the U.S.-Paris market that you serve?
A: The recent terror attacks in Nice will
unfortunately have some sort of negative impact on the number of visitors to
this beautiful city. How this will affect
the overall traffic to France and
Europe has yet to be seen. At
this time, La Compagnie’s
daily service between Paris
and New York has not
Q: You say you don’t
intend to be the best
business class in the
A: The best business
class in the sky is indeed not our aim, but
the best price and
concept is indeed our
niche. We believe, based on the positive
feedback from more than 60,000 passengers that we’ve served, that we’re delivering a singular experience.
Q: You say travel agents account for half
of La Compagnie’s business. How are
they selling people on the airline?
A: The travel trade understands the level
of comfort they can offer with La Compagnie and are aware of the difference
in fares from standard economy plus to
fares, or even more
so, from the legacy
carrier’s business-class fares to our
rates. With this
niche product, the
agents can satisfy
the needs of their clients while maintaining the passenger’s loyalty.
Q: How does your background as a pilot
help you run an airline?
A: Knowing the art of flying and the industry allows me to understand our pilots’ issues very well and permits me to
find, if necessary, the correct solution.
“I would give my Social Se-
curity number,” fellow panelist
and Tumblr brand strategist
Sarah Osman immediately
Luckily for her, the panel was
moderated by American Express
Travel EVP Claire Bennett. She quickly
offered to set up a meeting between Osman and the Amex fraud team.
Anyone would enjoy a nice pair of paja-
mas on an overnight business-class flight.
But until last week, TC never knew there
was such a thing as “iconic” pajamas. That
is how Qantas describes the light grey PJs
in its amenities kit.
But for the summer, that icon will get a
change ahead of the Olympics as Qantas
unveiled patriotic (for Australia) green-and-gold pajamas emblazoned with a gold
“It means people flying Qantas can
literally support our athletes in their
sleep,” explained Qantas marketing
chief Olivia Wirth.
Speaking of bedding down
... Cruising doesn’t get much
more glamorous than digging
your own foxhole in the snow
and sleeping in it. (Right?)
That’s the opportunity being offered by Poseidon Expeditions on
its upcoming cruises to Antarctica.
The line has increased the number of
overnight camping sites it reserves from
30 to 40. Guests who bivouac under the
stars in a Poseidon-provided sleeping bag
also get use of a toilet tent. No food allowed. But all this luxury doesn’t come
cheap. Guests pay $250 for the privilege,
FRIENDS & COLLEAGUES
‘The best price and service
business-class concept is our
niche. We’re delivering a
Fuqua joins Ama Waterways
Jerre Fuqua is joining Ama Waterways as its chief
marketing officer, effective Sept. 6.
In the newly created role, Fuqua will “place a
special focus on the travel trade” and bring together “the company’s strategic and tactical marketing teams in ways that will optimize communications across all media channels,” Ama Waterways
said in a statement.
Fuqua joins AmaWaterways from the TUI Group,
where he led a number of brands for 10 years, most recently serving as
president for Travcoa and YMT Vacations. From 2013 to 2015, Fuqua was
chairman of the USTOA.
Tammy Gonzalez has been named
CEO of Unique Vacations Group,
the worldwide representative of
Sandals Resorts International’s
Gonzalez, who had led Unique
Vacations as executive vice president, will have an expanded portfolio of directions and responsibility for all company divisions.
Gonzalez joined Unique Vacations in 1985.
In addition, Andy Blanco
has been promoted to CFO for
Unique Vacations. Blanco had
been group senior director of finance for Unique.
As part of an internal reorganiza-
tion, two staff members from the
National Association of Career
Travel Agents (Nacta) are tak-
ing on additional roles at ASTA,
and two ASTA staffers have been
promoted. The sister associations
will remain one company and two
Nacta president Ann Chamber-lin will keep her title and is now
also the senior vice president of
operations for ASTA.
Nacta’s vice president of sales
and industry relations, Robert
Duglin, has been named the vice
president of business development
for ASTA and Nacta.
ASTA director Kelly Bigel and
senior manager Sarah Kresge
have received promotions. They
will now support both ASTA and
Nacta meetings, events and business development activities.
4 AUGUST 1, 2016
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