Air Caraïbes reported a 2018 net profit of €10.4 million ($11.9 million), down 13% from €12 million in the previous year. Full-year revenue was up 10.9% to €482 million.

The French Caribbean carrier transported 1.6 million passengers, up 7% on 2017. Load factor also improved to 85.9% compared with 84.2% in 2017.

Air Caraïbes plans to take delivery of its third Airbus A350-900 July 26, bringing its fleet up to a total of nine aircraft. The 389-seat aircraft would operate primarily on its route from Paris to Cayenne in French Guiana. 

Air Caraïbes said its long-haul network drove growth, with an 11.5% increase in passenger numbers, despite the increased competition provided by the arrival of International Airlines Group’s Vienna-based LCC Level on routes to Guadeloupe and Martinique in summer 2018. 

Air Caraïbes will also be the first French airline to operate the Airbus A350-1000, it said, adding that its 429-seat A350-1000 would begin operating Dec. 16 to destinations in the French Antilles and give the airline a 6% cost saving per seat compared with the -900. 

The airline will also take delivery of a third ATR 72-600 for its regional operations in December, completing the renewal of its ATR fleet by the end of the year.  

Separately, Air Caraïbes’ sister airline, the long-haul LCC French Bee, which launched in 2016, said revenues grew substantially to €147 million in 2018 compared with €69 million in 2017, while passenger numbers doubled to 396,224 in 2018 and the carrier broke even. 

The airlines are both part of transport company Groupe Dubrueil. 

French Bee is scheduled to take delivery of a third A350-900 in June, while its Airbus A330-300 will be retrofitted with a three-class configuration and join the Air Caraïbes fleet, the airlines said. 

“French Bee will from then on operate three completely identical widebodies, allowing it to further improve its model, making it simpler and more effective,” the company said. 

Helen Massy-Beresford,