Friday, January 11, 2008

New year and new airlines...almost

Ring in the new year! It's 2008...8 years after the predicted Y2K meltdown. Not much happened there, but this year has already seen its fair share of action in the airline industry. On Christmas Eve MaxJet filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This trans-Atlantic, premium class carrier may have had high load factors (in the 80s), but it should always be stressed that high load factors do not necessarily mean success (sell your seats at way below cost and you'll get high load factors, and lots of bleeding red figures). This carrier was flying from Stansted to New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. Therefore, Project Lauren by British Airways will be an interesting venture. This is the first firm announcement by an EU carrier that will capitalize on the Open Sky agreement between the US and EU. The carrier will operate to New York from either Paris or Brussels later this year with 757s with a 3-class configuration. The caveat is that there will only be a capacity of 82, which makes for a very personal experience. BA's 757s are usually operated with 180 seats, so

This will be an interesting adventure. MaxJet was unsuccessful in one of the most densely saturated markets, granted with a new brand and to a secondary gateway, however Project Lauren will operate with an established brand to entirely new market and with limited connecting possibilities. Open Skies has enabled carriers to operate from any EU location and BA is capitalizing on this opportunity, we'll have to watch and see if they are able to create a truly connected intra-EU market.