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Joe Sharkey / New York Times / British Airways / Maxjet / Eos / L'Avion / Silverjet / All Business Class Carriers / → All Tags
The passengers hung out to dry by Maxjet's bankruptcy may not agree, but the all-biz-class airline sector is booming. While Eos, Silverjet and L'Avion were likely popping champagne corks when the competition went belly up, they won't be as happy to hear that British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are joining the fray.
BA's secret plans--known as Project Lauren--could be introduced by next week, with transatlantic service between the New York area and a European city starting by May. Thanks to the Open Skies agreement, it's hard to say which city it might be, though Joe Sharkey at the New York Times says Paris is a possibility. (That'd put British Airways in direct competition with L'Avion.)
While Virgin is at work on something, details are still a bit sketchy. In the meantime, the existing boutique carriers are acquiring more planes and looking to expand, making a stylish flight to Europe more available than ever.
· Despite One Failure, Growth Is Seen in Coachless Flights [NYT]
· Maxjet coverage [Jaunted]
· Eos coverage [Jaunted]
[Photo: Martin Third Av'n]
Maxjet filed for bankruptcy on Christmas Eve, halting flights immediately and rebooking passengers between London and New York on competitor Eos. While not that many people actually flew on MaxJet--maybe that was part of the problem?--this is the first of the new transatlantic biz-class-only carriers to shut down. A statement from CEO William Stockbridge is posted on Maxjet's website:
It is with deep regret that I must inform you that MAXjet filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on 24 December 2007. With today's fuel prices and the resulting impact on the credit climate for airlines, we are forced to take this drastic measure...We are extremely saddened to discontinue a service that we so passionately believe in.
On first glance, it seems like great news for Eos, L'Avion and Silverjet. But all long-haul carriers are getting hammered by higher fuel prices. Perhaps worse than that? Passengers who take a chance on these newcomers can't rack up frequent flyer benefits, which has to hurt repeat business. Maxjet's shuttering may not herald the end of the jet age, but it certainly shows how massively indifferent the airline market is toward innovative start-ups, as lesson not likely missed by some other folks.
[Photo: Martin Third Av'n]
A few more passengers might help...
Swanky transatlantic carriers were so hot in '06, but it looks like the fire might be dying down. Maxjet suspended trading of its shares on Friday, "pending clarification of its financial position." The airline has been hemorrhaging cash, and that's the likely cause of its current trouble.
To make things worse, while the airline offers nicer service than standard issue coach, it's not on the same level as competitors Silverjet or Eos. And industry analysts say there are some fundamental problems in the way Maxjet operates: namely, they keep one plane grounded as a spare (expensive!) and fail to deliver on promised top-notch service. Certainly doesn't seem like the way to keep your company's financial position in the black.
· Maxjet Share Trading Halted [Financial Times]
· Maxjet Suspends Shares Over Liquidity Fears [Times Online]
· Maxjet Stock Down 45% Since June [Google Finance]
· Despite Fears Maxjet Says It's "Business as Usual" [AP, via Portfolio]
· Is the End Near for Maxjet? [Upgrade Travel Better]
Good Fare: JFK-London Stansted, $999 RT on Maxjet
We'll admit it, we've been guilty of hating on Maxjet and EOS on more than one occasion, although we take issue with the concept more than anything else. And we're not even getting an attitude about it after a comped trip on the airline, like some. We think that once they work out the kinks and present a real value, they'll succeed.
To that end, Maxjet is offering an impressive sale: $999 RT between JFK and Stansted, including taxes. You get all the privileges of a Maxjet fare; the only restrictions are that you must book by October 1st for travel between November 1st and the end of February. We're big fans of whatever curry British Airways serves in coach on their JFK-London routes, but this represents a real step up to us, for not that much extra cash.
· Previous Good Fares [Jaunted]