Eric Koury : "Je vous confirme que Corsair est dorénavant une entreprise saine financièrement et prête à affronter cette crise avec sérénité." - Photo DR

Exclusive – Eric Koury: “We will do everything to regain the lost market share!”

Destinations – OMRP, an investment holding company, which you chair with Patrick Vial-Collet, does it actually own Corsair today?
Eric Koury:
Of course ! OMRP, in accordance with the commitments made under the Conciliation Protocol, ratified by the Commercial Court of Créteil, has owned 100% of Corsair’s capital since December 31, 2020. – Did you pay the 30 M € into the company’s account as you had planned?
Eric Koury:
If I have confirmed to you that OMRP is indeed the owner of Corsair, it is good that all of the commitments of all parties to the protocol, including those of OMRP, have been respected.
Can you imagine the State and TUI paying their contributions to the plan if the buyers that we are had not paid their shares?
I can confirm that Corsair is now a financially sound company, and ready to face this crisis with serenity.

“Not helping Corsair would have been an anti-competitive act …” – What do you say to some of your detractors who are worried about the help you are getting from the state and which could distort competition?
Eric Koury:
It is not in our DNA to respond to our detractors. If I believe what I have read, you are referring to the comments made by the manager of one of our competitors.
I can understand his frustration, given all the efforts he made until the last minute to convince us not to save Corsair and its 1,000 employees.
Added to this is also the resentment he may feel at not having succeeded in taking over this business, when he did attempt to do so.
As for the distortion of competition that this aid to Corsair could give rise to, this is completely unfounded.
On the contrary, it was the failure to help Corsair that would have been an anti-competitive act, allowing a duopoly to develop in a market (ORY / PTP-FDF) of more than 2.5 million passengers.
It is moreover to avoid such a situation that we embarked on this recovery, and that the state followed us. I thank him for that.
Finally, when we have received an EMP of 150M € and more than 100M € in state subsidies to finance its planes, including an Airbus A330, it would be better not to make this kind of comment.
Finally, I would like to remind you that almost all the airlines have obtained aid from their government.

Flights from the province (Lyon and Marseille) from this summer – Mauritius, Ivory Coast, Canada, the United States … do you confirm the abandonment of these routes and an exclusive refocusing on overseas? Can you confirm the destinations that will be kept?
Eric Koury:
Absolutely not. What we said was that Corsair was going to refocus its business on Overseas.
This means that we are going to do everything to regain the market share that we lost in previous years. This of course involves strengthening the program at our flagship destinations from the summer 2021 season.
Up to 14 weekly rotations to Pointe-à-Pitre, 11 to Fort-de-France, up to 10 flights per week to Reunion, 5 to Mayotte are scheduled.
This also requires a commercial approach focused on proximity to our customers. We will be opening flights from the province (Lyon and Marseille) this summer, to Reunion and Mayotte.
On the other hand, I remind you that we currently operate a fleet of 5 Airbus A330s, but that we are expecting 5 other Airbus A330 Neo including 3 which will arrive very quickly (3 from April, May and June 21) and they will have to be used.
Regarding international destinations, they are not abandoned, however. The only suspended destination is Miami, and the opening of New York which is indeed no longer relevant in summer 2021.
The intention is to switch to daily flights to Abidjan by summer 2021. The reopening of our line to Mauritius is pending the decision of the Mauritian government to reopen its borders.
Canada, we have been operating for a long time, and we will continue to serve Montreal in the summer with a daily flight schedule from June 18 until mid-September.

“Air Caraïbes is a bit like Canada dry …” – Do you foresee any job cuts within Corsair?
Eric Koury:
As I told you, the Corsair network is not intended to shrink but to evolve.
Given the arrival of the Neo, we will recruit pilots. And in order to cope with the peak summer season, we have planned to recruit around 50 Cabin Crew Members.

Efforts to improve competitiveness are continuing, for example with the outsourcing of the Orly stopover, which makes it possible to vary costs according to the level of activity. – So you confirm the arrival of the five Airbus A.330Néo which should join the current fleet in 2021, as Pascal de Izaguirre recently declared?
Eric Koury:
Absolutely, as I just said, recruitments are planned for flight crews and cabin crews to support the arrival of the Neo. – With its personnel, its name, its colors, its uniforms which symbolize the Caribbean roots, your competitor Air Caraïbes is seen as THE company of the Antilles. Are you going to change your image to have a more “Creole” touch too?
Eric Koury:
Our competitor is billed as you said as the Antilles company, but it’s not the Antilles company … it’s a bit like the Canada Dry.
Our project is to make Corsair, THE Compagnie des ultremers and therefore the Antilles. Our shareholders are largely made up of overseas business leaders, supported by overseas communities. Our ambition is to make Corsair a tool for the economic and tourist development of overseas territories.
It is obvious that efforts will be made to change our image in this direction.

Corsair’s head office is now in the West Indies – Are you thinking in the more or less long term, of repatriating Corsair’s head office in Guadeloupe?
Eric Koury:
It is no longer a dream, but a reality. Corsair’s head office is now in the West Indies and more precisely in Guadeloupe. In addition, we intend to give substance to this headquarters by basing part of our staff there. And we are going to launch very soon in Overseas a cabin crew hiring campaign for the high summer season. – What do you think of the firepower of Air France, which is planning around fifty flights a day to the Antilles for next summer from Orly and CDG?
Eric Koury:
We are living in a very complex time for air transport. The West Indies, despite the crisis, are a safe haven for airlines, including Air France.
These are the destinations that will recover the fastest, as was the case during the Christmas holidays, as soon as passengers regain the freedom to travel.
Air France has a significant unused fleet and it has the right to allocate it as it wishes. I do not believe this is a final posting.
As for Corsair, it will need to be agile, dynamic and efficient enough to grow in market share during this period and I believe it is preparing for it.

Health constraints: “We therefore expect to spend 4 to 6 complicated weeks” – You run the Air Antilles company, which has signed bilateral code shares with Air France. Is this contract called into question?
Eric Koury:
The issue of regional air transport in the Caribbean is very particular. There is a need to serve dozens of destinations with micro-flows (less than 10,000 passengers for some).
Transatlantic airlines need regional airlines to expand their network to new destinations, and regional airlines need transatlantic airlines to feed their network.
There was a time when Air France had a hegemonic attitude and could not bear to share its achievements with others.
I am willing to believe that times have changed and that the collective interest of the French flag and the interest of passengers will have made it evolve on this subject. Either way, it’s not me who will question it. – Air Antilles is a member of a professional union: SCARA, Corsair, it is a member of a federation: FNAM, are you going to regroup your two companies under the same “banner”?
Eric Koury:
At least we’ll have an eye in each of the two unions (laughs).
I believe that the air transport situation is such that there is no more room for parochial battles between professional unions.
Everyone has to move in the same direction to save the industry. – Health constraints are still likely to evolve in the wrong direction in the coming hours …
Eric Koury:
Unfortunately I fear that the sanitary measures will indeed increase in the days to come in the West Indies. We will go into “the compelling reasons”.
We therefore expect to spend 4 to 6 complicated weeks but we will be ready to restart when possible.

Christophe Hardin, is a member of the Association of Professional Aeronautics and Space Journalists (AJPAE) as well as the Association of Tourism Journalists (AJT). Former airline professional, he has to his credit, many hours of flight as cabin crew and trainer.