Some of the success of all-premium carriers could be credited to the withdrawal of the supersonic BAC-Aerospatiale Concorde.
Craig Jenks, the president of New York consulting firm Airline/Aircraft Projects, says the permanent grounding of all Concordes in 2003 left a void in the New York-London and New York-Paris markets. While legacy carriers have tried to fill this void with their business and first-class offerings, all-premium carriers give passengers a more exclusive option.
“There’s a lot of angling in the London-New York and Paris-New York markets. There’s a subtle Concorde dimension here,” Jenks says.
He adds the New York-London market sustained 200 Concorde seats per day before BA grounded their Concordes while the New York-Paris market sustained 100 Concorde seats per day before Air France withdrew theirs. All-premium carriers have so far added a similar number of premium seats back into these markets, although of course their aircraft cannot match the speed of the Concorde.
Air France this summer also added a daytime departure from New York to Paris in attempt to attract business passengers who prefer to fly during the day. Jenks says the decision to launch this flight has “the Concorde effect” because since 2003 all flights from New York to Paris have operated overnight.
Air France is now competing in the New York-Paris market against French all-premium start-up L’Avion, which launched one daily flight on the Paris-New York route in January and plans to add a second frequency by year-end. But L’Avion chief executive Marc Rochet (pictured
) says he has no plans to add a daytime flight from New York because there simply isn’t enough demand for such a flight.
L’Avion and the two of the other all-premium start-ups, Maxjet and Silverjet, are probably not attracting too many former Concorde passengers because they are targeting more the business-class and premium-economy crowd. “We’re not focused on the first class market,” Rochet says. “Between New York and Paris it’s just too small.”
However, the other all-premium start-up, Eos, is clearly pursuing the Concorde market. It is offering a first-class product on its Boeing 757s, which are equipped with 48 seats horizontal lie-flat seats in a cubicle or private area.