The Norman company Chalair is strengthening in Finistère with the opening of the Brest-Orly line on March 6 – Le Journal des Entreprises

On March 6, 2023, the Norman airline Chalair (108 employees, €28 million in turnover) will take over the Brest-Orly line. An event awaited by the leaders of northern Finistère after the announcement, in 2022, of the abandonment of the line by Transavia, the low-cost subsidiary of Air France. “We met the CCI, but also employer representatives such as Medef 29 and Investir en Finistère, to understand the needs on this line, knowing that there is already a well-served Brest-Roissy line”, explains Alain Battisti, the president of Chalair.

Objective: 60,000 travelers in the first year

The expectation of Finistère bosses concerns above all the regularity of the line and the possibility of making a return trip to Paris during the day, thanks to the greater proximity of Orly to the capital in comparison with Roissy. On this last point, the bet is held on paper. Chalair will offer at least two round trips per day, Monday to Friday, with a departure from Brest at 7 a.m. or 6:45 a.m. depending on the time of year, and a return from Orly at 8:30 p.m. periods of high demand, in summer and part of autumn, we will even go up to three round trips during the day on weekdays”, announces the deputy general manager, Jérôme Latrasse.

Chalair aims to have 60,000 people travel on this line in the first year (from March to December), then to increase to at least 75,000 passengers in 2024. “This corresponds to the line’s balance point”, indicates Alain Battisti. The call price is set at 90 euros including tax. “It’s not a low cost tariff but it seems to us a reasonable price”, supports the president. If the line finds its audience, Chalair is even considering moving to larger aircraft, 84-114 seat jets, against the planned 48-70 seat ATRs (propeller-driven aircraft).

A boost for Chalair in its ambitions: it has signed a partnership with Air France for “code sharing”. “In concrete terms, this means that passengers benefit from Air France’s loyalty program and connections. Tickets will also be offered by Air France”, explains Alain Battisti.

With the opening of the Brest-Orly line in March, Chalair is ahead of its competitor Céleste, a company in creation also in the ranks to restart the line but which is struggling to balance its budget despite grants from local authorities and subscriptions from Finistère businesses and economic networks. “This project was legitimate two years ago when there was no longer a line”, estimates the president of Chalair. “But from March 6, we will provide this service, and without asking for public money…”

Weight in Finistère

After a lackluster year in 2022 following travel restrictions due to Covid at the start of the year, Chalair wants to redeploy in 2023. The fleet of 12 aircraft will expand, with the arrival of three new ATRs between July and october. “The resumption of our growth will depend on the timing of their integration into the fleet. Unfortunately, we have already fallen a little behind what was planned”, notes the president. The company has stopped unprofitable routes, such as Limoges-Orly and La Rochelle-Poitiers-Lyon.

Brittany, on the other hand, is beginning to weigh in on the group’s strategy. If the public service delegation Quimper-Orly ends next winter, Chalair will announce in the coming weeks a new line between the prefecture of Finistère and Ireland. It launched a Rennes-Toulouse line in October and plans to double the number of flights by the end of March. It has been operating the Brest-Bordeaux link since 2007. Finally, two years ago, she installed its aircraft maintenance team in Morlaix. “We are recruiting two more people there. The 16 employees will soon join the former premises of Hop!, rejoices Alain Battisti. The opening of Brest-Orly also means the arrival of 16 flight crew and three technicians in Brest, to which are added the 15 employees in Quimper, i.e. around 50 employees in Finistère.”

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