Deluxe, demanding

It seems counterintuitive: in an age when the only airlines making money seem to be low-fares mass-marketers, why would someone start an all business-class carrier? Well, in the lucrative skies between London and the US, the discriminating flyer has always demanded more, and next month two US-based business class-only ventures will be offering it.

Eos Airlines, in development for more than two years by former BA executive David Spurlock, will fly Boeing 757s with just 48 seats each between New York‘s JFK and London Stansted with a basic roundtrip costing $6,500. An introductory offer brings that down to just $5,000 for a roundtrip that gets a flier 21 square feet of personal space and a 78-inch lie-flat bed. Eos will add a second daily frequency on the JFK-Stansted route in January.

Also on the first of November, another luxury class service starts between JFK and Stansted. This one, Maxjet Airways, flies 767-200ERs with 102 seats each. Maxjet, like Eos privatively held, will ask $1,558 and up for a roundtrip for each of its 60-inch pitch seats. It will add a second JFK-Stansted flight but is not saying when, and will also eventually add routes from London to other cities-most likely Washington Dulles, where it is based.

Both face challenges including the historical fact that no US carrier has been successful using Stansted as a London terminal, and carriers flying between New York/Newark and London‘s two main airports, Heathrow and Gatwick, simply have more frequencies: 17 a day between JFK and Heathrow on US and UK flag carriers.

History is littered with both low-fare and all-luxury ventures that tried the market and lost – from Freddie Laker’s efforts two decades ago to the failed PeopleExpress transatlantic venture. Still, with more than 3.7 million people flying between London and New York every year, some one has to be willing to pay for a good time.


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