All-premium carrier La Compagnie insists its choice of London Luton as its UK base of operations was not a poor strategic decision.

The airline is to halt its transatlantic flights between Luton and Newark this month, in favour of reinforcing its Paris-Newark service.

It has attributed the decision to economic considerations, particularly in the wake of the UK’s decision to exit the European Union.

La Compagnie had been operating six-times weekly from the UK and daily from Paris.

While the airline uses Paris Charles de Gaulle, the French capital’s primary hub, Luton is a secondary airport – notably a base for budget carrier EasyJet, and offering relatively low aeronautical charges.

But La Compagnie chief executive Frantz Yvelin tells FlightGlobal that he does not believe the airport’s image as a base for low-cost operators conflicted with the all-premium airline’s model.

“Even if it could be considered a low-cost airport, Luton is also the UK’s largest private-jet base – so that’s a point of view,” he says.

“We were satisfied with Luton. So were our passengers.”

Passenger data from the US Department of Transportation, covering the last eight months of 2015 following the UK route launch, indicates that load factors on the Luton routes substantially lagged – typically by some 20 points – those for the Paris services, in both directions.

Yvelin defends the use of Luton further, claiming that “geographically, it makes sense” because the rail journey from central London is faster than that to Gatwick airport.

“Customs and security are way faster to go through than Heathrow or Gatwick,” he adds. “Plus Luton is currently getting a facelift, while some special features have been added – our lounge, for example, was one of the best over our entire network.”

La Compagnie, which operates 74-seat Boeing 757-200s, is to offer a twice-daily Paris-Newark service from October.

Source: Cirium Dashboard