Spanish company headquartered in Barcelona, Volotea operates 50% of its activity in France, a proportion which will rise to 60% next year. “Of the 11.7 million seats that we will offer in 2023, there will be 6.5 million in France,” announced this week Céline Lacroix, head of international development at Volotea, traveling to Bordeaux to record the launch of two new lines, Heraklion (from April 29) and Calvi (from May 6).
Volotea operates 224 lines in France, including 62 domestic lines, “which makes us the second airline company behind Air France in terms of the number of domestic flights,” continues Céline Lacroix. The company employs 1,750 people, including 700 in France. 20 minutes questioned the head of international development, to discuss the situation of air transport and the low-cost.
The low cost model is picking up better than traditional companies, how do you explain this?
For Volotea in any case, we have been very fast and very agile since the takeover in June 2020, since we have taken the gamble of transforming our network into an almost totally domestic network, because there were many restrictions and people had still afraid to travel abroad. This has allowed us to recover 80% of traffic by 2020. Then, we gradually moved towards a return to international markets, depending on demand, and in discussion with each airport.
How will this evolve?
It’s complicated, because we make our plans year by year based on airports and opportunities. But we will always remain on a ratio of around 60% internationally, for which there is still strong demand, and 40% domestic. However, everything will depend on the context, and we saw during the covid that had to be adapted.
We still talk a lot about sobriety, reducing travel, do you envisage an evolution of the tourist model?
We are all aware that we will no longer be able to fly tomorrow in the same way as today. It will be necessary to decarbonize the industry, and we are already working on several projects, in particular a 100% electric plane which could transport between 9 and 19 people, with the idea of testing this technology before extending it to higher capacity flights. We are also including 34% SAF (sustainable fuel) in our Airbus shuttle between Toulouse and Hamburg-Finkenwerder, and we hope to be able to include it very quickly in our commercial flights. We have been recognized as the company that has reduced its CO2 emissions the most since 2019, by around 14%, thanks in particular to the renewal of our aircraft fleet. We also take care to fill our planes to more than 90%, which allows us to reduce our CO2 emissions. We are working a lot on connectivity, with the idea of only offering direct lines, that is to say without going through a hub. But as far as traffic is concerned, there is still a very strong demand for travel, whether for leisure or personal travel, for example to visit family. On the other hand, it may be necessary to anticipate a reduction in business traffic thanks to teleworking and videoconferencing.
The price of kerosene remains very high with consequences on the price of tickets, this is likely to continue, how are you going to absorb this increase?
Fuel for any airline is an important part of our costs. This year, we were not able to fully compensate for this increase, and we had to apply increases in ticket prices. But in fact, it depends a lot on the lines and the periods… It is obviously a worrying situation, but we remain optimistic because there is always demand, and we continue to open new lines.
Are the very low prices offered by the low cost ones still tenable?
I think so. For example, we start our rates at 29 euros, imagine that we have to add four euros to this price due to the increase in fuel, we will still remain very competitive.