Busy, busy days at British Airways and OpenSkies

Quite a week. For whatever reason BALPA did not yet release the results of the British Airways pilots strike ballot regarding the creation of OpenSkies which was due to close today. Presumably it will all come out on Thursday. BALPA has made clear that it is very confident of getting the strike mandate. (As I said before, I don’t think there will in fact be a strike. A commenter said I had not idea what I was talking about – we shall see.) But there’s an awful lot more going on in BA’s world this week. Coincidentally or not, (OK, not – obviously), BA chose to file its OpenSkies service application with the US Department of Transportation on the eve of the closure of the BALPA vote. It doesn’t seem to be freely available on the web yet, so below is the text of the story by my colleague Lori Ranson that we published in Air Transport Intelligence yesterday,

British Airways appears to have zeroed in on flights between New York and Paris for the initial launch of its new OpenSkies subsidiary in June.

Previously British Airways said OpenSkies would fly a single Boeing 757 aircraft sourced from its fleet between either Brussels and New York or Paris and New York.

In a US regulatory filing dated February 15 British Airways states: “OpenSkies initial service will connect Paris and New York. New York operations will be conducted at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Paris operations will be conducted at either Charles de Gaulle Airport or Orly.”

BA opted to create OpenSkies following the open skies agreement the EU and US struck last year that takes effect in March.

Swift approval of OpenSkies is necessary, BA tells US regulators, and should be granted no later than May 1 “to complete the preparatory activities necessary to enable it to inaugurate service as scheduled in June 2008”.

A second 757 is scheduled to join the new airline’s fleet this year, and by the end of 2009 OpenSkies should operate six of the aircraft. Previously, BA has said the 82-seat 757s will feature a three-class layout: 24 lie-flat business class seats, 28 in premium economy and 30 economy class seats.

BA is requesting approval for OpenSkies to display both its code and the British Airways designation on the new flights between Europe and the US.

In terms of the onboard product of OpenSkies, BA believes the service in all OpenSkies cabins “will be premium in nature and cosmopolitan in feel”.

(This incidentally means that you can read about OpenSkies’ first routes all over the place – but not on the OpenSkies website. They’re learning about the web, but not as quickly as you might hope.)

Another possible non-coincidence is that BA chose the same day to place a major advertising campaign recruiting pilots.

And finally – and believe me this is pure coincidence, no really – my colleagues at Airline Business chose today to publish the web version of their exclusive and lengthy interview with BA CEO Willie Walsh. It’s very interesting.

Oh yes, and apparently there was some trivial stuff about a report on a Boeing 777 that I think crashed at Heathrow some time!

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