Tuesday, June 23, 2009

BA Gives all-Business Class Flights to London Another GO

Today, British Airways (BA) announced schedules for their newest entry into the competitive New York to London market. Starting on September 29th, BA will operate one daily flight from close-in London City airport to JFK using an Airbus 318 configured with just 32 lay-flat business class seats.

The route was originally launched when upstart all Business Class carriers such as Eos, MaxJet and SilverJet were making waves in the New York - London market. Eos, in particular achieved success with the banking and legal set due to the close proximity of London Stansted to the City of London - the heart of the banking sector. BA decided to go one better and offer flights from an even closer airport - London City.

Since then, the financial markets have obviously cooled even further and Eos, MaxJet and SilverJet have all gone the way of the Do-Do. But even in these difficult times, BA is set to launch with one daily flight, climbing to two daily flights later in the year. (The flights will not operate on Saturdays and will stop for fuel in Shannon, Ireland on the way back from London due to the short runways at London City)

Interestingly, BA has decided to run this operation completely separate from their other up-start operation, OpenSkies. OpenSkies operates from JFK to Amsterdam and Paris along with Newark - Paris in an all-premium economy and business format. How many different business units and brands does BA really need? And do all these different brands and products fragment the market or segment it? Time will tell....

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