British Airways is announcing today the launch of OpenSkies, a new subsidiary that will fly between business centers (centres) in Europe and the US. Initial routes will include flights from Paris and Brussels to New York (though which airport is yet to be determined), because they will have no competition on those routes. Oh wait, except for American, Continental, Delta, Air France, L’Avion, and Air India. They’re really launching these flights because they’ve incorporated the new airline as a separate business, allowing them to pay their employees less, which will keep costs down and possibly allow them to actually make some money.
Maybe. The other twist is that there will only be 82 seats on the 757s they’ll be flying. 24 business class seats, 28 premium economy seats (though these will have 52" pitch), and 30 coach seats. I actually think this is what will give them a fighting chance. The mix of fares will allow them to grab from a wider range of customers than, say, a single-class airline like L’Avion or Eos (if they launch the Paris routes they’ve announced), and not relying entirely on business traffic.
It’s a small operation – they only expect to have 6 aircraft by 2009, so they’re just looking to take advantage of a handful of citypairs where this concept would make sense. I don’t think they’re crazy.