Eurofly using A319 as ‘club car’

 - November 29, 2006, 6:08 AM

Giving “club class” a new meaning, Italian carrier Eurofly is about to begin charter operations with an Airbus A319LR “business liner” on static display here at the EBACE show. Eurofly acquired the aircraft new about a year ago and holds an option on a second example.

Initial flights are covered by an agreement with exclusive cultural association Club MilanoManhattan (MiMa) to provide regular service between Milan and New York. Club MiMa was founded to cater to entrepreneurs, intellectuals, sportspeople and artists whose lives and work generate frequent travel between the cities. It aims to foster and encourage relationships between members and business communities.

The 48-passenger aircraft, which also is available for ad hoc charter, has recently returned from lease operations with National Air Services ahead of Club MiMa operations that will start this month. Depending on demand from club members, Eurofly could operate such service as often as six times a week in high season (but not on Saturdays), departing Milan Linate Airport at teatime and arriving at New York JFK Airport in time for a downtown dinner. After a two-hour turnaround, the aircraft will return to Italy, landing at about midday, according to commercial executive vice president Armando Brunini.

The A319LR, which also will be used to transport the Italian national football team, is configured in a single 58-inch-pitch layout with 12 rows of four-abreast Recaro seats that recline through almost 90 degrees. Interior presentation is by Italian fashion designer Alviero Martini.

Each seat offers a personal in-flight entertainment screen, with audio and video services available on demand, and power for a laptop computer. Initially, the arrangement is a flexible partnership with both parties sharing the risk, explained Brunini.

Services likely will start at about three a week until the general level of demand becomes clear, although he expects promotion to club members and “word of mouth” to generate a lot of interest. Travelers will pay via their club subscription, sometimes with additional payments according to their membership grade.