OpenSkies shutting down?

The Observer is reporting that British Airways is considering ditching OpenSkies, their subsidiary that operated in a “premium” configuration between New York and Paris Orly as well as New York and Amsterdam. This would come at a pretty big loss, given that they bought L’Avion just last year for 54 million pounds.

There’s no doubt that this is a tough environment to operate a premium airline in. I was impressed by their product when I had the opportunity to be on the inaugural New York to Paris flight last June, but unfortunately a great value isn’t necessarily enough to survive nowadays.

Their business plan was infinitely better than Silverjet, Maxjet, and EOS, thanks to their tie-in with British Airways, but I’m afraid they may very well have the same fate. By the way, it’s interesting to note that they haven’t had a post on their blog in nearly three months, while it used to be updated weekly. As subtle as it is, that must be a sign of something.

Filed Under: British Airways, Media
  1. I, too, had the opportunity to fly on EC last year (albeit not on their inaugural flight, but rather instead as a guest of FlyerTalk) and was mostly impressed with their hard product (the seats were spectacular, and the food was at least edible) but less than impressed with their soft product (I had two indifferent FAs, although their concierge concept was friendly, clever, and creative, if a bit confusing for bookings). On the other hand, my return flight on L’Avion (which EC had purchased but not yet fully integrated at the time) was FAR better (the purple seats were a bit heavy on the eyes, but the FAs were fantastic and the food fabulous).

    All in all, though, my experience was very positive. Would I have paid for that trip? No, but then again I’m not in EC’s target audience. I’ll take the lowest fare I can find and survive in coach (which truly doesn’t bother me), or if I’m looking for a premium service, I’ll redeem miles in an F or J cabin. Still, there must be a segment out there willing to pay, even in today’s times of tight travel policies. In any case, it was a creative concept and had the potential to be well-executed given time to smooth out the bugs. I’ll be sad to see them go.

  2. I very surprised to read the comments from Jackai. I’ve flown on both Openskies and L’Avion and found Openskies to be far superior in terms of plane layout, food and especially onboard service.

    I had a mix of American and British flight attendants on Openskies and all French on L’Avion. While the L’Avion girls are easy on the eye, they never cracked a smile and simply vanished once the lengthy meal service is completed. They never once walked back through the plane to see if we needed anything. I found their seats hard to get comfortable in and impossible to sleep in,.

    The Openskies crews spent time chatting, came through with drinks throughout the flight and went out of their way to charm the passengers. The seats were very comfortable with a nice colour scheme,

    As with Jackai, I’m someone who will scout for the cheapest fares on BA and AA and use miles to upgrade. The lack of being able to check my bag on for a US connection, absence of part of One World all deterred me from future flights.

  3. A sign of the times alas – it was questionable in the beginning with the target markets, the lack of integration to the rest of the BA network – kudos for trying, but as BA Staff are taking major hits and the business is bleeding money – OpenSkies is turning into a funtoy they really can’t afford. Combine that with merging two airlines together,

    Oh at the loads have quite frankly been not as expected (do a little digging – you’ll find the loads are very…under performance.)

    If anything, I’m surprised it’s lasted this long. On the other hand BA is still hell bent on getting the LCY-JFK service up and running this year (although it is very tightly targeted).

    Intresting times…

  4. I’d be interested to know who this target audience was as they never advertised and kept a very low profile. I flew with them last summer and again just a couple of weeks ago. I was saddened to see the decline in the product and service.

    The concept was a good one but it seemed pure idiocy to place a very British airline in France of all places. I had considered a flight with them this summer but was put off by the fact that the French are prone to striking and with the news that they will be going out of business I do not want to be stranded.

    As an American when I fly a British airline, I expect a British product. With this one it seemed like BA was trying to fix something that was never broken. They moved too far from BA for it to be a long term viable option.

    I’ll be interested to see what happens with the LCY-JFK service and I hope that it’s crewed with British Airways trained employees.

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