British Airways announced it is taking over France-based L’Avion, the last remaining all-business-class carrier on a transatlantic route. The 18-month-old startup airline will be merged with BA subsidiary OpenSkies. The two operators have been code-sharing for less than one month between Paris Orly and New York. OpenSkies and L’Avion use JFK and Newark Airports, respectively.
Britain’s “boutique” air carrier Silverjet ceased operations in May, becoming the third such airline to collapse within the last six months. MAXjet launched service in November 2005 and by Christmas Eve 2007 had ceased operations. Competitor Eos, which began service just a month before MAXjet, lasted just four months longer, filing for bankruptcy in April.
Can a stand-alone all-business-class “boutique” airline make it as a private-jet alternative? With the failure of transatlantic carriers MAXjet in December and Eos in April, some are questioning the possibility of success for the business model.
Eos, the all-business-class airline launched in 2005, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Saturday and flew its last flight yesterday. The Purchase, N.Y.-based airline operated an upscale, twice-daily service between New York JFK and London Stansted Airport, charging round-trip prices ranging from $3,500 to $9,000.
Can an airline ever realistically hope to match the level of service and intimate environment a private jet offers? Silverjet Aviation thinks it can, and in January it launched what it calls Silver Service between London and New York with a dramatically modified Boeing 767-200. It might not be a private jet, but in terms of cabin comfort and amenities, it isn’t far from it, and on price it’s more than competitive.
The airline industry has finally realized that business aviation is a best kept secret and has recently been maneuvering to offer its passengers a piece of the action. A number of leading European flagcarriers–Lufthansa, KLM and Swiss International Air Lines–now provide scheduled services with long-range Airbus A319 LRs and Boeing Business Jets (BBJs), all flown on their behalf by Swiss executive aviation provider PrivatAir.