Intro Aviation, the new majority shareholder of French long-haul airline Corsair, plans to operate up to 15 Airbus A330 classics/A330neos and add new routes to North America.

Intro Aviation managing director Peter Oncken told ATW that, since the deal was completed March 15 after German tourism group TUI agreed to sell 53% of Corsair, “Our main focus is to develop Corsair further. The carrier has actually shrunk over the last 10 years under the ownership of TUI and had been at a standstill in many areas. Now, there is no time to lose to bring Corsair into the future,” Oncken said.

The Paris Orly-based carrier operates two Airbus A330-200s, two A330-300s and three Boeing 747-400s. “There is room for improvement in terms of fleet utilization with these aircraft as well,” he said.

As part of a major fleet rollover, Corsair will take delivery of its first leased Airbus A330-900neo in September 2020, followed by a second aircraft in January 2021 and a third one in March 2021. “That allows us to phase out the 747-400s,” he said.

In two years, Corsair plans to add three more A330neos as part of expansion plans to reach a critical size and be more competitive at Paris Orly. These 10 aircraft will be a mix of A330 classics and A330neos.

“At first, we planned to have 13 aircraft by 2023, but I think 15 aircraft is an optimized size. We expect there will also be consolidation between Paris Orly-based carriers operating to the Caribbean, which we should benefit from.”

Corsair wants to become more independent from typical French-core markets, such as services to the Indian Ocean or French Caribbean Islands.

“We are also studying several other destinations in Africa or the Indian Ocean, but there are several attractive destinations in North America for us. There is strong demand on these routes,” Oncken said, declining to give more details on which new US destinations he has in mind.

Corsair recently launched flights to Miami.

“We want to have daily frequencies to important destinations to attract business travelers,” he said.

Oncken also wants to expand interline and codeshare agreements such as with UK-based LCC easyJet or IAG’s LCC Vueling. “We need to address additional European markets; we need to feed via Orly,” he said.

Oncken said he sees no need for Corsair to operate from French regional destinations like Marseille, “but we don’t want to be focused only on Paris Orly. We are also looking to the [widebody] ACMI business; there is always a need for it. This creates an added value.”

Corsair is free of debt, but not profitable now, he said, projecting that for 2020 the carrier will report losses again as a result of pilot training because of the fleet transition from Boeing to Airbus.

“The target is to breakeven by 2021. And we need to complete the fleet transition in time; this is currently the most crucial target,” Oncken said.

Kurt Hofmann, hofmann.aviation@netway.at