The French Connection 12-7-2007

L’Avion is the newest all-business-class airline to take off

By: Jonathan Siskin

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The airline uses 757 planes.
This year, Paris-based L’Avion became the first business-class-only international carrier offering service between the U.S. and France. It currently offers six flights weekly between Newark Liberty Airport and Paris Orly Sud aboard a Boeing 757-200 aircraft specially designed to resemble a large private jet.

Four dedicated check-in desks at Newark Airport’s Terminal B ensure a swift and efficient check-in procedure beginning at 5 p.m. for a 7:30 p.m. departure. Clients should know, however, that L’Avion does not have a business-class lounge yet and passengers must wait in a blocked-off section near the gate.

Window or Aisle
A crew of bilingual flight attendants welcomes passengers and directs them to their seats within the 757’s spacious cabin that accommodates a maximum of 90 passengers instead of the usual 220. Rows of seats are four abreast in a two-by-two configuration separated by a single wide aisle; since there are no middle seats, each passenger can select either a window or aisle seat. Seats recline to a maximum 140-degree angle, and there is abundant leg room.

While the cabin is roomy and comfortable, the quality of food and beverage service is similar to coach and not up to the standard of what is expected in business class. There is no wine list or dinner menu; wine selections are limited to one white and one red and there is a choice of just two main courses (on my flight it was chicken or fish) that are delivered in tin foil and unwrapped just prior to being placed on the tray.

Onboard entertainment is provided by individual DigEplayers portable digital video players with an eight-inch screen that offer a selection of movies in English and French, plus several music channels. There are also laptop power outlets at every seat.

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L’Avion offers plenty of legroom.
Flying High
While it still must work out the kinks and upgrade its overall product, L’Avion is off to a flying start with higher than anticipated ticket sales in both France and the U.S. During its first six months, load factors have been steadily increasing: For example, my flights to and from Paris were both above 80 percent capacity. It also has a record of consistent on-time departures/arrivals (over 90 percent) and is attracting many repeat passengers.

The Basics
L’Avion’s flight 001 departs Newark Liberty every evening (except Saturday) at 7:30 p.m. and arrives at 8:40 a.m. the following morning at the South Terminal of Paris’ Orly Airport. The return flight leaves Paris at 2 p.m. and arrives in Newark at 4:45 p.m. the same afternoon. L’Avion is the only airline currently offering flights out of Orly Airport to the U.S. Among the advantages of Orly are that it is far less crowded than Paris’ Charles De Gaulle Airport and is also closer to the city center.

The price from $1,599 roundtrip is also well below the business-class fares of Air France and other international carriers serving Paris from the U.S. L’Avion also offers the option to rent a car with or without a driver in Paris or New York, as well as hotel room reservations in both cities.



L’Avion’s performance it its first six months of operations exceeded projections and as a result, the company has decided to expedite its growth plans. In the 2007-2008 winter season, the airline will offer a second flight from New York to Paris leaving from Newark. L’Avion’s additional Boeing 757-200 is identically equipped, with 90 business-class seats.