The growth of low-cost, long-haul airlines continued with the announcement of XL Airways’ new connecting service from New York to Tel Aviv via Paris beginning May 1, 2018.
Speaking at an event in New York, Laurent Magnin, CEO, said XL will now be able to book multiple flights on a single ticket, with a transfer at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport. Bags will be checked through to the final destination.
Flights from Paris to Israel on XL were introduced earlier this year and will reach up to five weekly frequencies next April. That will give U.S. travelers a five-times-a-week schedule with a three-hour connecting time in Paris.
If this “experiment” proves successful, the transfer operations will be extended to XL’s other US gateways of Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Roundtrip fares between New York and Tel Aviv will start at $710, which includes one checked bag, one hot meal on each flight and wireless entertainment. Finally, for those looking to make the most of their trip, free stopovers of up to five nights can be made in Paris on either the onward or the return trip with no change in the fare.
XL was established in 1995 and is based at De Gaulle. It started flying low-cost, long-haul flights between Paris and New York in 2009 and currently operates to destinations in North America, the Caribbean and Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean.
Low-cost airlines seeing success
Magnin took aim at “legacy airlines” saying that low-cost carriers were succeeding not just because of their prices but because they had better organizations and less complex structures, including fewer types of aircraft.
“We look at what travelers need and adjust our fares according to seasonality and other factors,” said Magnin.
Because of these differences, XL is able to charge far less than major airlines – under $1,000 for a roundtrip to Paris against $1,500 or more for a major carrier in summer.
Magnin said XL targets the leisure market with flights that arrive late in the evening when airports are quieter and it is easier to get through customs and to their hotels.
Magnin said he is not afraid of other low-cost competitors like Norwegian because XL offers amenities like free check-in bag and serves one hot meal on each flight. “There is too much pressure on low-cost passengers,” said Magnin; “they worry if their bags are too heavy or if they will have to pay for food. We try to avoid that.”
“My favorite point to make,” said Magnin, is: “Do you want to spend your travel budget on eight hours of flying or on eight days in hotels?”
Magnin said that with an increase in fleet size scheduled for 2019, XL was looking at expanding its service to other US gateways including Chicago – and to elsewhere in the world, including the Middle East and Asia. He also hopes to have nonstop service from the U.S. to French cities beyond Paris – like Marseilles and Lyons.