Groupe Dubreuil, the parent company of Air Caraïbes and French Bee, is interested in the Paris Orly slots belonging to Aigle Azur, the company’s top executives said Sept. 12.

Following difficulties with its long-haul expansion strategy and an attempted shareholder coup, French leisure carrier Aigle Azur went into receivership Sept. 2. The airline left thousands of passengers stranded and more than 1,100 employees unsure of their future, when it ceased flights Sept. 7. 

Air France, UK LCC easyJet and Groupe Dubreuil are among the parties that have confirmed interest in all or part of Aigle Azur.

The commercial court managing the next steps for Aigle Azur confirmed Sept. 9 that 14 expressions of interest had been received. These were mostly for individual assets belonging to Aigle Azur and included more complete takeover projects, but no offers could proceed in its current state. The court is scheduled to hold its next hearing Sept. 16.

Groupe Dubreuil has made only minor adjustments to its offer, which would see it take on Aigle Azur’s long-haul activities, including its two Airbus A330-200 aircraft and roughly 100 employees initially. It plans to create a new airline with a new air operator’s certificate to operate routes to Mali and Brazil. 

“You know that what interests us at Aigle Azur is the slots because Orly is constrained in terms of slots and Aigle Azur has many slots,” said Jean-Paul Dubreuil, chairman of the French group that also includes automotive, construction and energy activities. 

“We have fine-tuned our offer on minor technical points at the margins, but we have not changed the structure of our offer,” said Marc Rochet, head of the group’s aviation activities and chairman of low-cost, long-haul carrier French Bee. He added: “We think it’s a serious offer. We won’t get into a bidding war. We’ve put ourselves forward as a candidate—if we get it we’ll do it, but if we don’t get it we’ll do something else.” 

Rochet added: “We would have no problem in absorbing two A330-200s into our fleet.”

The executives were speaking at a press conference to launch French Bee’s latest destination, New York Newark Liberty International Airport, which it will serve 7X-weekly from June 10, 2020 with its newest Airbus A350-900, its fourth, scheduled to join the fleet in June 2020. 

The announcement came as French long-haul airline Corsair announced flights to New York Newark, scheduled to begin on the same day and with reservations set to open Sept. 17, a day before French Bee’s. 

French Bee already serves Saint-Denis in the French department of Reunion in the Indian Ocean from Paris Orly, as well as San Francisco, California, and Tahiti in French Polynesia. 

Two A350-1000s are also scheduled to join French Bee’s fleet in 2021 and 2022.

“After the launch of a new route to San Francisco in May 2018, French Bee is pursuing its development in North America and reinforcing its position as a low-cost, long-haul carrier targeting a large leisure customer base,” the group said.

Helen Massy-Beresford,