Air Caraibes: profitability above all

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Present at the FipCom Entrepreneur's Breakfast at the beginning of October, Eric Michel, Antilles regional director of Air Caribbean, spoke about the abandonment of the direct Paris/Juliana route and the non-resumption of the Caire group.

As a preamble, Eric Michel wanted to retrace the history of the Dubreuil Aéro Group which holds more than 97% of the capital of Air Caraibes. In 2000, Jean-Paul Dubreuil, who had just sold Air Vendée to Air France, reinvested in the Antilles and acquired Air Guadeloupe, which he renamed Air Caraibes. In 2003, the Dubreuil group decided to position itself on the long-haul market from Paris in order to complete its regional network between the Caribbean islands. In 2009, the direct Sint Maarten / Paris-Orly line opened. It will close in August 2022, leaving the monopoly to Air France / KLM and the incessant increase in prices. With a turnover of 2,7 billion euros achieved in 2022, the Dubreuil group is, according to Eric Michel, the only profitable French company: “zero euros of debt coming out of the health crisis and a loan from the State fully repaid from own funds. Concerning the resumption of the direct Paris/Juliana line, given the massive presence of Air France on the line and its large volume of aircraft, Eric Michel and the Dubreuil group currently prefer to concentrate on establishing a list of potentially profitable lines. If the Paris/Juliana direct line remains on this list, Air Caraibes' enthusiasm at the idea of ​​reestablishing it is not heightened: "On this line, Air Caraibes only makes money 5 months a year , 7 months are in deficit and the crux of a company is profitability.” Concerning the takeover of Air Antilles and Air Guyane, Eric Michel was transparent about the situation: “We know the Caire group. He was an associate in the past and the Dubreuil group only has bad memories of him.” It was therefore out of the question for Air Caraibes to consider taking over a group riddled with debt, the air transport certificate (CTA) and mechanical approval. The company nevertheless welcomes competition on regional routes with New Air Antilles (SEM COM/EDEIS). Ticket prices are not going to decrease at Air Caraibes, on the contrary: “The ecological transition requires a significant technological leap but between political will and technological reality, there is a gap” declared Eric Michel. The increase in prices would therefore be relative to the smallness of the local market and the environmental and technical constraints imposed by the use of a mix of oils which would cost four times more than fuel. _VX

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