Air Caraibes celebrates its twentieth anniversary: ​​the success of “common sense” | EUROtoday

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HASOM, Air Liberté, Euralair, XL Airways, Aigle Azur… The cemetery of French air carriers is frequently filling up and Fnam, the federation of corporations, notes that the market shares of French worldwide visitors are falling yr after yr. of 1 p.c.

In this turbulent sky, Air Caraibes has been creating for twenty years, supported by a single shareholder, the Vendée household group Dubreuil. Jean-Paul, the paterfamilias, who has simply handed over management to his son Paul-Henri, had dabbled in passenger transport in 1974 creating Air Vendée. A small nine-seater twin-engine plane linked La Roche-sur-Yon to the island of Yeu and the workers included, along with Jean-Paul, a secretary, a pilot and a mechanic. Twenty years later, the construction turned Regional Airlines, the most important regional firm in Europe, which Dubreuil bought to Air France, which was too afraid that British Airways or Lufthansa would take it over.

Common sense, the important thing to success

What to do with this money? Jean-Paul Dubreuil then met Marc Rochet, an engineer who had labored extensively within the administration of airways. This former Air Inter worker, amongst different issues, managed the Antilles flights of Aéromaritime, a subsidiary of UTA, rotated AOM till Chirac appointed one among his pals to handle the belongings of Crédit Lyonnais.

READ ALSO Air France: 5 questions surrounding the switch from Orly to Roissy-CDGThe two males rapidly agreed to create a transatlantic firm to the French West Indies, a service for which, with the shutdown of Air Lib, there have been solely two operators, Air France and Corsair. The resolution was taken in September 2003 and the primary Orly-Pointe-à-Pitre-Fort-de-France flight befell on the next December 12. “One of our strengths, we make decisions very quickly, we move quickly,” says Marc Rochet, who places the success of Air Caraibes into perspective. There is not any secret to success, it is simply 99% widespread sense. This airline was run like a standard enterprise, it was profitable due to its workers and the shareholder. Often, within the air, we react conservatively. Clearly, we don’t essentially cease routes that lose cash. We are a personal firm, with out state shareholders, we have to be worthwhile. It’s quite simple, a route wins or loses and if it loses cash, we cease it. » This was the case of Saint-Martin and Cuba, particularly. When it was created, the marketing strategy gave three years to interrupt even. It was achieved in eighteen months…

It will then be a succession of worthwhile years, besides 2011 (aftermath of the monetary shock of 2010) and the Covid-19 years. Note that purchases of plane serving the Antilles profit from tax exemption, a system which pursuits the very worthwhile Dubreuil group. “Air travel represents a third of the group’s activity and is growing at approximately the same speed as distribution,” underlines Paul-Henri, the brand new CEO. “Covid was experienced as a bit of an injustice because all the other airlines were financially helped by the State… except us,” laments Marc Rochet. As we had been sturdy earlier than the disaster, we had nothing. The ethical of the story is that we assist the unhealthy and never the nice. Of course, we had different help, these which apply to everybody, however to not the airline sector. We negotiated a collective efficiency settlement with our unions, they accepted a ten% pay reduce over two years. To compensate for this effort, I made two commitments: no PSE and we’re retaining our plane orders. »

Air Caraibes knew how to decide on the proper planes on the proper instances. At the beginning, these had been rented below the perfect circumstances created by the bankruptcies of carriers in Germany and Switzerland. With development, this additionally makes it attainable to then alternate an Airbus A330-200 with 303 seats for an A330-300 with 354 seats and to maintain up with demand.

The A350, the perfect airplane of its technology

“We are very attentive to the selection of our fleet, the important questions in our enterprise stay the next: which plane can we use? How can we set it up and the way can we make it fly? signifies Marc Rochet. With Jean-Paul Dubreuil, we determined to purchase the A350, which is clearly the perfect airplane of its technology. We had been the primary to place them on-line in France. They had been designed to have 9 seats in financial system class. We determined to place not 9 however ten seats, which made us extra worthwhile. To compensate for the truth that prospects are a bit of tighter, we decreased the aisles a bit of and put in a really environment friendly video system. » The first A350s arrived in 2017, assigned to Orly-Pointe-à-Pitre and Orly-Fort-de-France. Today, the A350-1000 (429 seats) function as much as three each day flights to every island. Passengers notably recognize the standard of the cabin pressurization. The stress corresponds to 1,500 meters, the altitude of a mid-mountain resort, in comparison with 2,200 meters for earlier technology plane.

READ ALSO A350 dispute: Airbus and Qatar Airways keep away from a really costly lawsuitWith French Bee, the low-cost little sister created in 2017, the Dubreuil group operates twenty Airbuses. Another A350-1000 is anticipated in December 2024. Its locations are stored secret, however as it’s tax-exempt, it may well solely be the French West Indies and Guyana or Reunion. Note {that a} fourth ATR will likely be put on-line on the Saint-Martin-Pointe-à-Pitre-Fort-de-France path to treatment the failure of Air Antilles whose planes are nonetheless grounded.

Air Caraibes’ first Airbus nonetheless flies however for the Republic

For its first transatlantic flight on December 12, 2003, Air Caraibes operated between Orly and Pointe-à-Pitre an Airbus A330-200 registered F-OPTP with the serial quantity 240. This was leased to ILFC as a result of the younger airline doesn’t (but) have the means to amass wide-body plane. Five years later, the F-OPTP was returned in alternate for an A330-300 providing extra seats. ILFC, the world’s largest rental firm, is searching for liquidity. Its place as a subsidiary of the American insurer AIG put it on the coronary heart of the 2008 monetary disaster. The Directorate General for Armaments (DGA), which studies to the Ministry of Defense, is searching for a second-hand long-haul automobile that may be transformed into presidential airplane, and acquired this A 330-200 msn 240 for 60 million euros. Ten years previous, this airplane has solely 45,000 flight hours and seven,500 cycles (takeoff and touchdown sequences with pressurization). The identical machine launched new from the Toulouse factories would have value almost 180 million euros. In all circumstances there’s added the format of the cabin and particular gear which was the topic of an extended undertaking in Bordeaux-Mérignac at Sabena Technics (previously Sogerma).

But maybe, like lots of of 1000’s of French individuals, you’ve already traveled aboard the long run presidential airplane, then registered F-OPTP when it linked Orly to Pointe-à-Pitre and Fort-de-France within the colours of Air Caribbean? In the Elysian model, the 324 seats of the transatlantic airliner have disappeared. All that is still is the “bodywork” with the fuselage, wings and engines; the inside was fully gutted after which redone.

Schematically, we are able to divide presidential A 330 into 9 volumes.

  • simply behind the cockpit, the presidential bed room is fitted out with a double mattress and a dressing room. In the toilet, there’s a bathe
  • the presidential lounge has a desk and armchairs round a espresso desk
  • a secretarial house
  • a kitchen the place, as on all planes, we don’t put together dishes however we warmth them
  • a telecommunications room (VHF, HF, satellite tv for pc) the place encryption gear is positioned which makes it attainable to take care of confidential connections with the bottom. Orders associated to nuclear deterrence can be transmitted.
  • A soundproofed assembly room with an oval desk and eleven seats.
  • What has typically been known as a “hospital” is an infirmary house permitting particularly to offer care within the occasion of medical repatriation.
  • A 60-seat cabin for attendants who’ve work gear to speak with the bottom, together with high-speed Internet. These ten rows of armchair beds just like these in enterprise class are organized 2 x 2 x 2.
  • At the very rear, an financial system cabin is reserved for crew members and bodyguards.

Even the cockpit has undergone some alterations. Indeed, this A 330-200 registered F-OPTP was the sufferer of a velocity data failure initially of September 2008, fairly just like that which precipitated the crash of the Air France 447 Rio-Paris in June 2009. Thanks primarily to the ability of the Air Caraibes crew, lack of management was averted. A report from the pilots was despatched to the supervisory authorities and to Airbus. But, at Air France, suggestions from small corporations isn’t taken under consideration. The Pitot probes had been, after all, instantly modified by Air Caraibes.