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OpenSkies to Launch Washington – Paris

British Airways subsidiary and all-premium carrier OpenSkies announced that it will launch Washington – Paris flights in May, marking its second route after closing New York – Amsterdam about 6 months ago.  Summer prices for their BizSeat product (roughly equivalent to an extremely nice domestic business class) start at $1750 round trip, only about $300 more than coach seats on its competitors on the Washington routes Air France and United.

OpenSkies says they expect this route to be profitable in its second year, which is what Eos, SilverJet and MAXJet also used to say.  The airline also says that it expects the company to be profitable by 2013.

MAXJet was unable to make Washington – London work, though that was a more crowded route.  OpenSkies’ product is superior to United’s, but with only 5 flights per week they will still face difficulties competing with 21 flights per week offered by Air France.

Openskies started about 18 months ago, and the lifespan for all-premium TransAtlantic carriers seems to be about 3 years.  I don’t think this route is their last chance at success, but they really need to prove that this model works outside of their original citypair.

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  1. The difference between MAXjet, Eos, and Silverjet was a misguided mindset that you can sell customers on the idea of “luxury travel” over the atlantic ocean. Prior to the economic tsunami and oil speculation, that started in late 2006 to early 2007, it was an easier sell. These products were great, but simply became a victim of their own reputations (as well as a lack of capital, and recognized branding).

    I think OpenSkies biggest benefit (other than the relationship to BA) is that they are marketing this as exactly what it is, and alternative premium service offsetting the higher cost of legacy carriers, while offering not only a better seat but an exceptionally inviting and proactive staff in-flight; it really does make a difference. As well their BA branding sure does hurt.

  2. correction— DOESN’T hurt!

  3. Steve From

    I think this is bad news for the coach traveler. Airlines are going to continue to crush, fold, and otherwise humiliate coach travelers until they say “uncle” and pay more to upgrade their seats.

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