Thursday, July 03, 2008

Back in Business

A technical glitch shut this blog down for about a week. It's fixed.

Here is some catchup:

Jul 3
Jul 2

Long-rumored, the deal is done.

British Airways said today it has an agreement to acquire French airline L’Avion and integrate the company with its new subsidiary OpenSkies. OpenSkies recently launched daily flights between Paris Orly and JFK.

The value for OpenSkies, I am told, is the hardware. OpenSkies needs a few extra 757s and British Airways doesn’t have them to spare. L’Avion operates two 757s between Paris Orly and Newark. The combined airline will operate up to three daily flights between Orly and JFK and Newark using 757s.

Dale Moss, managing director of OpenSkies, said, “L’Avion will provide OpenSkies with immediate scale [and] increased access to Paris Orly.”

British Airways said: “Once the two airlines are integrated, customers can expect to experience benefits that will further improve the Paris-New York offering, including an increased schedule and BA Executive Club privileges.”

L’Avion started flying in early January 2007. Its acquisition by British Aiways means that all four of the startup all-business-class airlines — MaxJet, Eos, Silverjet and L’Avion — have now disappeared.

L’Avion’s two 757s are configured with 92 all-business-class seats, each with a 140-degree recline. OpenSkies, however, has an odd configuration, with several rows of standard economy seats in the rear behind a business-class section with 140-degree-recline seats. For reasons of coding, OpenSkies calls its business class section Prem+, evidently as a marketing ploy to accommodate customers with corporate policies forbidding business-class travel.

The OpenSkies Prem+ does not fall into the premium-economy class that some other airlines offer. Premium economy is essentially a glorified coach class. OpenSkies is flying with business-class seats and service that British Airways pioneered in 2000 when it introduced its first generation of ClubWorld amenities. It’s widely suspected, by me and others, that the 30 token coach seats in the back are there to bolster the illusion of a three-class aircraft, and will disappear as soon as OpenSkies gets market traction. In an interview earlier this year, Dale Moss said that OpenSkies would consider removing the coach seats if it made sense.

Now that more 757s are available, Open Skies says that it is considering adding service between to Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt and Milan.


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