British Airways has branded its new European-US subsidiary carrier ‘OpenSkies’ and will open services in June with daily flights to New York from either Brussels or Paris Charles de Gaulle.
OpenSkies will use Boeing 757 aircraft, drawn from BA’s fleet and configured with 82 seats in three classes. Each will have 24 lie-flat business-class seats, 28 premium-economy and 30 economy-class seats.
All of the 757s will be retrofitted with winglets to enhance the fuel efficiency of the type.
OpenSkies will initially operate a single 757 on either the Brussels-New York or Paris-New York route before a second aircraft is introduced later in the year to serve the other. BA has not said whether it will serve New York JFK or Newark.
The new operation will have a fleet of six 757s by the end of next year. BA started recruiting pilots for OpenSkies last year but it has yet to disclose firm details over the terms for the carrier’s pilot corps.
“This is an exciting new venture for us and we’re confident that it will be a great success as we build on the strength of BA’s brand in the USA and Europe,” says BA chief Willie Walsh.
The new carrier will shortly seek regulatory approval in the UK and USA. BA’s former worldwide sales director, Dale Moss, will be in charge of the airline, which will be UK-registered.
BA has been developing the carrier, under the working title ‘Project Lauren’, to take advantage of early ‘open skies’ liberalisation of air services between Europe and the USA which takes effect from March.
“By naming the airline ‘OpenSkies’ we’re celebrating the first major step in 60 years towards a liberalised US-European aviation market which means we can fly between any US and European Union destination,” says Walsh.
“It also signals our determination to lobby for further liberalisation in this market when talks between the EU and USA take place later this year.”