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Third business airline to New York takes off

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2007 10:21 am    Post subject: Third business airline to New York takes off Reply with quote

After three years in the planning, Silverjet launches maiden flight from Luton to Newark

Steve Keenan

The third business-only airline flying from London airports to New York took off today, bringing down prices for transtatlantic luxury travel even further.

Silverjet is selling seats from £799 return (rising to £999 lead-in fares), with established rivals Maxjet starting at £790 and Eos, £3,550.

Each has its individual touches, with Eos having only 48 seats that recline to a flat bed onboard its 757 jet. Maxjet has 102 seats with double the normal legroom.

Silverjet aircraft has 100 business class flat beds, with individual food service, personal in-flight entertainment systems - and a separate ladies toilet. Onboard services including wireless internet and plasma TV screens.

But two more factors make stand Silverjet out from the competition. The airline has a check-in of just 30 minutes at the private aircraft terminal at Luton airport, while it includes a mandatory carbon offset contribution in its ticket prices.

“For too long, long-haul airline travel has been associated with hassle, disappointment and environmental damage,” said chief executive Lawrence Hunt. “We’ve spent the past three years talking to customers and feel confident that Silverjet addresses their biggest concerns."

Silverjet started operations with a one flight per day service between Luton airport and Newark in New York. It plans to launch a second daily flight in July and a third in October.

Analysts have warned that the new airlines face an uphill battle to take customers away from the big carriers because of their inflexible flight schedules, a lack of incentives such as frequent flyer miles and their reliance on the more marginal London airports.

But Hunt remains confident. “We’re looking at around 30 different routes but have not decided which ones to go for yet. At the moment we are focusing on making the New York route profitable,” Hunt told AFX News in a telephone interview this morning.

“We want to look at a range of different markets, especially markets east and south of London because we want to grow the business and there are more profitable routes outside North America.”

Silverjet hopes to lure air travellers who usually travel in economy on the legacy carriers as well as corporate clients who typically book business class seats on legacy airlines. “We will allow people who cannot currently afford to fly business class - who usually fly in economy or premium economy and pay between £500-£1,500 to be treated as a piece of meat for 10 hours - to fly in business."

“This will allow those people to upgrade but actually in some cases to pay less money. The cheapest premium economy fares are around £1,400, so with our prices starting at £999 people will be saving around 30 pct on that fare.

“We are also seeing a large number of bookings from people who would traditionally fly in business class on the legacy
carriers, like big companies such as corporate banks and technology companies,” he added.
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