Fabien Soulet, CEO of Lyria (c) BBouillot
How is Lyria’s business traffic doing?
Fabien Soulet – After a period of recovery in the second half of 2021, Lyria experienced an air pocket in December-January due to the fifth wave of the Covid epidemic caused by the Omicron variant. The recovery is now strong, which has convinced us to go on the offensive by rescheduling 100% of our pre-crisis offer as of Monday, March 28. This means 17 daily round trips between France and Switzerland. As in 2019, this represents a 30% increase in the number of seats available, i.e. 4,500 additional seats and the equivalent of about 30 flights if we compare it to air travel. Lyria regained 80% of its business traffic at the beginning of March and will be beyond that in April. By comparison, it was already at 85% last November before the Omicron wave.
What are the reasons for this increase in supply, even though the business market has not yet returned to its pre-pandemic level?
F. S. – We are convinced that the business market is there and that the train has a card to play in this recovery. The health crisis has had a paradoxical effect. While Lyria’s traffic has been affected, the pandemic has also reinforced the competitive advantages of the train for our business travelers. The train reflex has become essential, both for customers who were already using us and for those who tested us during the crisis. According to figures published by the Marco Polo Association, a think tank dedicated to business travel, while Lyria has been below the market during periods of restraint, our company has been doing very well during periods of recovery. Lyria can therefore hope to quickly return to its business traffic level, or even exceed it as early as 2022 or 2023. Especially since this supply policy will increase the number of passengers on our trains
Lyria can thus hope to quickly return to its level of business traffic, or even exceed it by 2022 or 2023.
Does the issue of sustainable mobility work in your favor?
F. S. – It is obvious that this current dynamism is also based on the instructions of large companies whose travel policy, in line with their CSR commitments, consists of giving preference to rail over air travel for journeys of less than 4 hours. This approach is particularly visible in Switzerland. I would like to stress that the study carried out by the Swiss firm Infras, published in 2021, showed that the emissions of the train and the rail environment in general were, depending on the route considered, up to 20 times lower than the plane. This is important, because companies are now asking for precise figures on this subject, and our teams are able to provide a personalized carbon assessment for each route. As a reminder, Lyria competes head-on with air travel on
all its routes, from Paris to Geneva, Basel and Zurich. From a 50% market share in 2019, our objective is to take additional and significant shares in the next 12 months
Are new services expected on board?
since the beginning of the school year in 2021 on our various routes, from Sunday lunchtime to Friday evening. This allows us to offer our customers a uniform service, all day long and regardless of the train. For €195 one-way on the Paris-Geneva route, for example, business travelers will have access to a dedicated area in the Grand Voyageur lounge at Paris-Lyon station, a comfortable journey in a first-class carriage, a meal or snack on board depending on the time of day, and free wifi throughout the journey. The useful time spent on board to work is the other element that makes the train competitive with air travel. It represents 83% of the time spent on a Lyria door-to-door trip, compared to 30% for a trip by plane.
Has Lyria put in place any commercial offers to support this recovery?
F. S. – A significant amount of commercial activity has been maintained throughout the Covid period between our BtoB teams and companies. The two proposals launched in 2019 for companies are still relevant: the first is aimed at major accounts, the second is adapted to SMEs via corporate fares for both 1st and 2nd class, whatever the size of the company and its volume of travel over the year
Franco-Swiss trips of less than 4 hours
Paris-Basel: 6 return trips daily in 3 hours and 4 minutes
I’m Michelle, and I love to travel. As a former hotel expert for one of the world’s largest hotel chains, I’ve stayed in nearly every type of room imaginable (including many that were not so desirable!). Nowadays, I am fortunate enough to be able to explore the world on my own terms. From international flights to learning different languages, there is nothing too far out of reach!