Air Caraibes chief executive Marc Rochet believes that last year’s strike in reaction to the creation of long-haul low-cost offshoot French Blue was a “very good thing” for the two airlines.
Speaking at the Connect conference in Ajaccio on 23 February, Rochet conceded that Air Caraibes management had been “partly responsible” for the three-day strike by staff in April “because the vision we gave to them [was] not very clear”.
But following the industrial action, cabin crew and pilot unions “have agreed that we should be in the long-haul low-cost market, so they understood that if we didn’t do that we would be out of the market one day, and that will be a big mistake”, Rochet says.
A settlement was reached limiting the growth of French Blue for three years until 2019 in exchange for a 10% cost reduction.
As part of the deal, French Blue agreed to surrender the Paris Orly-Punta Cana route to its sister company in 2017 and to instead operate services linking the French capital with Reunion.
Rochet indicates that French Blue will receive its first of three Airbus A350s later this month, rather than in June as previously suggested.
The low-cost carrier began operations in September 2016, with an A330.
Rochet argues that to be successful, long-haul low-cost carriers must have costs that are at least 25% lower than rival legacy carriers’ and must achieve 17h of utilisation per day.
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