A French Bee A359 on the taxiway at Orly Airport in Paris. It’s a very lovely livery, IMHO.
Can you have low-cost airfare and elegant service? French Bee definitely wants you to think so.
French Bee is a relatively new low-cost carrier, having begun operations in September of 2016. They’re based at Paris Orly Airport (ORY).
With a current fleet of three Airbus aircraft (one A330-300 and two A350-900s) flying to five destinations, they’re a relatively small player, and they’re France’s first LCC. They also have one A350-1000 on order, currently slated for delivery later this year.
From their ORY hub, they fly to San Francisco, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, Papeete, Tahiti, and Saint Denis, Reunion, all of which are vacation destinations for French travelers.
French Bee’s A350-900 seat map
French Bee is part of the Dubreuil group, which also owns Air Caraïbes, a somewhat larger airline which primarily serves Caribbean holiday destinations from the same ORY base.
Interestingly, French Bee started out being named French Blue. When the airline applied for a U.S. air carrier permit in November 2017, JetBlue objected to the idea of allowing another airline to operate in the United States that had the word “blue” in its name. That eventually led to a rebrand as French Bee in January 2018.
With a target audience of budget-minded holidaymakers, the airline’s pricing is very competitive; fares typically run less than $700 return between SFO and ORY. An additional $250-ish buys you a premium-class seat (more on that later).
There are 411 seats on a French Bee A359: 35 Premium, 50 Cosy, and 326 in Eco Blue.
I flew with French Bee on their SFO-ORY-SFO route the first week of April, traveling in 10-abreast Smart Economy/Eco Blue on the outbound leg and in their Premium cabin on the return flight.
Cathay Pacific’s inaugural departure from Sea-Tac Airport
Cathay Pacific’s new non-stop service from Seattle to Hong Kong launched on April 1 with four flights per week; the service will go daily starting July 1.
The new offering is the only current flight between the two Pacific Rim cities; that should make it a popular option for travelers.
Cathay Pacific went all-out with a launch party at the gate
Cathay Pacific is using its excellent Airbus A350-900 on the route, which is now the airline’s eighth to the United States and follows existing services to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York (JFK), New York (Newark), San Francisco, and Washington DC.
A Finnair Airbus A350-900 at Narita – Photo: Alec Wilson | FlickrCC
We love getting a glimpse behind the scenes at the people behind airline operations. So when we flew to Helsinki to learn about Finnair, we sat down for a chat with Sara Mosebar, the queen of the airline’s Airbus A350s! Well, formally her title is “A350 Program Manager.” But she may as well be aviation royalty based on her résumé. After getting her aerospace engineering degree at the University of Texas at Austin, she started her career at Boeing. And just a few years after joining Finnair’s A350 team as a Fleet Engineer, she was promoted to head the airline’s entire A350 program. It’s a big role, since the A350 is the flagship of Finnair’s long-haul fleet.
Here is Sara with one of Finnair’s A350s – Photo: Finnair
Here in part one of our interview, we discuss Sara’s responsibilities as person-in-charge of Finnair’s A350 fleet, her experience transitioning from Boeing to Airbus airplanes, and the highlights of the Finnair A350 passenger experience. We also see how her team tackled teething problems with new aircraft, as well as plans for expanding Finnair’s A350 route network. If you’re an AvGeek, consider it required reading!
Singapore Airlines’ ultra-long-haul route from Newark to Singapore — discontinued a few years ago — was truly a legendary flight. On the wings of an Airbus A340-500, it clocked in just shy of 19 hours westbound, making it the longest regularly scheduled flight in the world. But when fuel prices rose, Singapore Airlines was forced to get rid of the inefficient A340-500s, and the ultra-long routes with them.
Then came a new generation of aircraft that offered enough fuel efficiency to make lengthy routes more profitable. Singapore Airlines’ Star Alliance partner United got the jump on launching a direct flight between the U.S. and Singapore, flying a Boeing 787-9 from San Francisco. Singapore Airlines (SQ) struck back with an Airbus A350-900 on the same route a few months later, but it wasn’t done there. SQ has its sights set on the return of the ultra-long-haul direct flights to Newark and Los Angeles. And very soon, it will have just the plane to do it: the Airbus A350-900ULR (for “ultra long range”).
Read on for more on what this very special aircraft means for Singapore Airlines, and what it could mean for you.