French low-cost airline French bee has taken delivery of its first A350-1000, acquired on lease from Air Lease Corporation (ALC). Announced yesterday, the A350-1000 for French bee was accompanied by another of the same airplanes for Air Caraibes, both airlines being part of Groupe Dubreuil.
Double delivery of A350-1000s
Airbus has announced the delivery of two A350-1000s to Groupe Dubreuil, one for French bee and one for Air Caraibes. For French bee, this is the first A350-1000 the airline has taken, and marks a step up for the long-haul low-cost as it looks to capitalize on the A350s increased capacity.
Although French bee is a low-cost airline, it does offer two classes of service. For the A350-1000, there will be 480 seats in total, an increase of 69 seats over its A350-900. Of these, 40 occupy the 2-3-2 premium class cabin, while 440 are laid out in a compact 3-4-3 economy. The A350 comes with the Airspace cabin, complete with IFE at all seats and full WiFi connectivity.
Steve Udvar-Házy, Executive Chairman of Air Lease Corporation, commented on the double delivery saying,
“ALC is pleased to announce these two new A350-1000 deliveries to Groupe Dubreuil Aéro and be the first to introduce the aircraft type to FrenchBee. Air Caraibes Atlantique and FrenchBee are excellent partners that continue to serve France, the French Caribbean, South Indian Ocean and Pacific markets with the most technologically advanced, fuel-efficient aircraft.”
Groupe Dubreuil has a further three A350-900s already on lease from ALC, two of which are operated by French bee and one by Air Caraibes. Air Caraibes already operates a fleet of two A350-1000s and has one remaining on order with Airbus. For French bee, this is the first A350-1000 to arrive, joining a fleet of four A350-900s.
Budget transatlantic trips
French Bee has recently announced its latest long-haul service to Los Angles from Paris. This makes it the third US destination for the airline, after New York and San Francisco. Despite COVID, the airline has enjoyed relative success with its cut-price transatlantic services, lodging a load factor of more than 50% even when the US was closed to European travelers.
While the squeezy economy cabin might put some passengers off, for others the trade-off of very cheap fares between the States and Europe is often seen as worth the sacrifice. Tickets start at $154 one way, including a small (26 lb / 12 kg) carry-on bag but no meal. For $224, the size of the bag doubles, and an inflight meal is served.
In true low-cost style, everything beyond the ticket is an extra cost. French bee has more than 20 different add-ons ranging from a second meal or access to the lounge in Orly to headphones and extra legroom. The economy cabin, with its 3-4-3 layout, offers seats that are only 16 inches wide, but they do recline by 12 degrees.
The upgrade is the premium cabin, where flights start at $439 and get you larger seats (18 inches width), more recline (16 degrees), and all the food and drinks you want. This cabin also has more legroom and bigger IFE screens, and ticket holders are entitled to priority boarding too.