Meet the Member: Hélène Cornet, U.S. Sales Manager, Airlinepros, representing XL Airways

Member news | August 05, 2019

In our latest Meet the Member feature, we spoke with Hélène Cornet, U.S. Sales Manager at AirlinePros, the leading airline representation company in North America, representing XL Airways. Established in 1995 and based at Paris-Charles de Gaulle, XL Airways is a French airline operating a fleet of Airbus A330 to long-haul destinations in the US (New York, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles), the Dominican Republic, the French West Indies, Mexico, Cuba, the Indian Ocean and China. Over 800,000 passengers chose XL Airways last year for its sharp fares and good service with French flair.

Keep reading to learn more about Hélène’s role.

{8/14 Summer Social at the Boat Basin Cafe} XL Airways has generously sponsored one of our largest social networking events of the year, contributing a round-trip ticket to Paris that will be raffled to one lucky event attendee. This event is almost sold out, click here to register today!

FACC: XL airways has been operating since 1995, but seem to have significantly gained in notoriety in the American market within the last several years. To what can this be attributed?

HC: XL Airways has indeed been operating since 1995 but only started flying to the US in 2009, when service between Paris and New York was introduced. Back then, our flight schedule was limited, with 3 flights a week over the peak summer season. 10 years later, we offer year-round service with up to 7 flights a week. We initially focused on working with travel agents, keeping in mind that travel agencies account for 70% of all plane tickets issued across our network. We also targeted the French community in the US, which is essential to our business as it constitutes a base of frequent travelers. Combined with highly competitive fares, this proved very successful. Two years ago, we moved to the next step and launched our very first TV campaign in the US. This has significantly increased brand awareness. We now feel confident moving forward with more mass market actions. Positive sales trends and simply flying into one of the most sought after European city, Paris supports more frequency and higher load factors.. We’re in a virtuous circle and will capitalize on it.

FACC: You currently hold the role of sales manager. What does a typical day consist of for you?

HC: First I just want to say that my days are really busy so I will start very early with a walk then a good coffee with my baguette obviously, to fully load my batteries for the day!

Sales goes with numbers, but more important for me is the human factor. I want to build long-term relationships with our partners and clients. I always place our customers first. Travel agencies that require assistance for any matters or have questions about our product are usually the first emails that I look at. Of course, sales take a big part of my time. I make sure that the sales trends remain positive for each gateway. I also reach out to agents that book us for the first time, thank them for their business and let them know that they have a team in the US that is ready to assist them with anything they might need.

As sales manager, I always have to be on the lookout for any opportunity that can help XL Airways grow in the US. When we look for growth, we look at sustainable growth. We look for partnerships where both parties truly gain from working together.

FACC: The airline business is fiercely competitive, what tactics do you use to secure your market share?

HC: At the end of the day it all comes down to two key factors: keeping our fares competitive and being different. Passengers come to us looking for affordable nonstop flights and we work hard to keep that promise. In a largely commoditized industry, the next challenge is to make that journey memorable so they will return for their next flight and also speak about their positive XL experience to friends and colleagues. Friendly crew, innovative services like our wireless entertainment system or the ability to customize one’s journey are what make us stand out. And we constantly work on finding that new element that will make your XL Airways journey better without compromising on our fares.

FACC: Can you tell us more about your main customer profiles?

HC: Right now, we mostly cater to leisure passengers with rather balanced flows on the Paris-New York route: 60% of our passengers originate in France and 40% are from the Tri State area and nearby States. Our passengers are relatively young, usually in their late twenties/early thirties.

We also see a lot of families on board and we make sure that the little-ones are comfortable and well taken care of with our special services and amenities .

In 2020, two brand new Airbus A330-900Neo will join the fleet and a Premium Economy class will be rolled out on all existing aircraft. This will help us increase our share of passengers traveling for business.

FACC: What do you hope to bring to the FACC network, in terms of knowledge and expertise?

HC: I came over from France in 2014, and have experienced so much during that time. Having worked in both countries has taught me a lot about dealing with different business cultures. I hope to be able to not only share these experiences with other members, but also bring expertise from the airline industry to help members with their travel needs between New York and Paris.

FACC: One thing that has most surprised you about working in New York is:

HC: This truly is the capital of the world. In one city, you have this global fraternization that opens your eyes to how other parts of the world live and do business. This helps you see opportunities where you probably never considered looking into at first.

Interested in connecting with Hélène? Log into the FACC Member Directory to send her a message.