French Bee is aiming for a return to profit in 2023 🔑 – The Reunionese press reported on Friday morning the comments made by Jean-François Carenco, Minister Delegate in charge of Overseas Territories, about the rescue of Air Austral. “The company would be saved” he declared…

Mark Rochet: Air Austral must be the subject of a massive relief plan which needs the approval of the French authorities and the European authorities. To my knowledge and despite fiery declarations as always from politicians, approval has not been obtained.

We were consulted on this file and had the opportunity to speak with the Commission. I said clearly that despite this system of massive State aid which our group has not had recourse to, we are not opposed to the rescue of Air Austral.

On the other hand, we have clearly asked that the companies serving Reunion be able to use the Air Austral network in the Indian Ocean with commercial agreements.

Today these agreements only exist between Air Austral and Air France, two companies very powerfully aided by the State. I therefore asked that, within the framework of the rescue plan for Air Austral, this company opens its network to connections for French Bee and I of course have no objections to an opening for Corsair or others.

It is not by closing in on oneself that one will save oneself. – You said a few days ago: “Prices will go up but we cannot massacre the customer who wants to travel. The densification of planes is necessary so that families can still afford to choose air transport”. The French Bee model responds to this problem. What about Air Caraibes? Are you going to densify the cabins? Abandon the business?

Mark Rochet: There are two answers to this.

The first is that we have standardized the economy class between our two companies. French bee economy class seats are the same as on Air Caraïbes.

On the front part of the plane, each company has its model, its history. It’s quite complicated, but overall I still think that we are moving towards a densification of the rear classes and a reduction of the front classes.

Let’s be clear, there are plenty of destinations where we don’t need business class. If we take a destination like the Dominican Republic, there are indeed some customers who pay to travel ahead, but this is not the core of the customer base.

It’s a historic move and in times of high inflation, it’s the only way to limit price increases for customers.

Also, customers need to learn to book earlier. We had this evolution of booking at the last moment, because of the Covid but when you decide at the last minute, the tickets are more expensive than six months before.

However, I think we are heading towards a plateau in prices as oil and the dollar, the biggest upsides, are stabilizing around $80 a barrel. At these levels, the air transport economy is capable of being resilient, so we should not go for other increases, except occasional ones, in fares. – You were delighted with the success of your Paris-New York line. The company Norse Atlantic Airways has just launched, too, on this line with almost the same product as French Bee (eco and premium). What do you say: long live the competition or is it starting to get a lot of people?

Mark Rochet: You have to be consistent. We are liberals and I have always advocated competition.

I also left Air France because I considered it to be an annex of the State… So I say “Welcome”. Let everyone fight with their weapons.

What I see is that NORSE has the same model as Norwegian which fell. The costs, you have to go after them with your teeth and I don’t know if their business plan will hold up.

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French Bee is aiming for a return to profit in 2023 🔑