Strategic Meetings Summit London, 26 September,
September 29 2022, Kimpton Fitzroy London
Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
Last week Silverjet, a new British airline, introduced a daily business class only service between Luton and Newark airports, the third start-up between London and New York in a little over 15 months. Eos and then Maxjet, both American, began operations in late 2005 out of Stansted to JFK. Despite industry pessimism they are still around and appear to have the financial strength to stay the course and reach into profitability. Eos offers 48 seats on a single aisle Boeing 757 and Maxjet 102 on a twin aisle 767. Silverjet also chose the Boeing 767 with a 2+2+2 layout, 100 passengers in the space normally occupied by up to 250.
The British Airways strike announcement has been a bonus for all three carriers, and particularly Silverjet, the new kid on the block. ”The phones have not stopped ringing,” said chief executive officer Lawrence Hunt.
Are these airlines the successors to Concorde? Perhaps not, but there had to be some kind of heir to the exclusivity that Concorde offered. No more than 100 passengers per flight, a dedicated lounge, and club atmosphere. We”ve heard it before. Silverjet is advertising its product from ”799, much the same price as premium economy on the mainstream Heathrow carriers. On the continent Lufthansa now has four routes operated by 48-seat business class only aircraft. KLM flies a 44-seat flat bed 737 daily from Amsterdam to Houston, Swiss has a Zurich ” Newark 737 service, Eurofly goes Milan ” JFK and another newcomer is Elysair out of Orly, again to Newark.
Silverjet is British and uses Luton, in many ways a much better positioned airport than Stansted. Last May it successfully raised ”25.3m from institutional and other investors and was listed on London”s alternative market. October saw it taking a most imaginative step, buying another airline. With the purchase of Flyjet and its air operators certificate it bypassed many of the problems associated with a start-up. The pair of Boeing 757s that came with the carrier gave it instant cash flow from charter market activities, and also experienced flight deck crew. In a master stroke Silverjet contracted with Luton Airport for its own dedicated terminal literally across road from the main airport check-in area. Here passengers are offered kerbside luggage disposal and a private landside lounge where the staff come to you for check-in and the normal airport stress is forgotten. At Newark the authorities have gone to remarkable lengths to replicate the arrangement with another dedicated area extremely easily accessible for both arriving and departing passengers. ABTN will be reporting on the Silverjet product next week.
The major carriers at Heathrow (and to a lesser extent Gatwick) are watching the situation carefully. The two new Stansted airlines have cornered, by common consent, about 6% of the business travel market. BA has assisted by failing to maximise on its former Concorde clientele. Perhaps they should have called first class, Concorde Class. A marketing exercise yes but also a reminder of something special. After all the Heathrow gate guard is still a model Concorde.
The Eos model is distinctly business class plus, reaching towards first, at business class fares. The Maxjet product offers full business class legroom and a superior premium economy product starting at twice the current economy discount price. Silverjet is Luton”s alternative, a flat bed business class at well under ”1,000 return to New York. All three, just like Concorde, are something special.
We wish Silverjet well. ABTN believes that there is room in the market place for another competitor in the London ” New York scheduled exclusive market, and to other major US conurbations. But we also believe that there is even more potential going east, a possibility not open to Eos or Maxjet, US airlines. Luton is the major home of the UK”s executive jet business. It could also become the centre for Europe”s business class only enterprises.