Per The Flying Critic, yet another one of the all business class transatlantic airlines, Silverjet, has ceased operations. I’ve predicted all three would fail since day one (especially Maxjet), and the main reason I thought so was because they never formed any real alliances with other carriers.
While I’ve heard excellent reviews of EOS and Silverjet, and even good reviews of Maxjet on a value basis, it’s simply a difficult industry and even without fuel prices where they are I would never have expected to see them thrive.
We all have our views on what people look for in an airline, but I’m convinced there are three main things that business travelers look for in their airline of choice– schedule, price, and frequent flyer programs. That’s right, I think that the actual product offered is a distant fourth. Why would I mutter such heresy in an industry where everyone is competing to have the biggest wine glasses and the fanciest seats? Well, quite frankly, if you are in a position to pay full C/F through work, chances are your time is more valuable than most of the frills that a carrier can give you.
Furthermore, I think one of the essential elements in choosing an airline is their frequent flyer program, something which most of these transatlantic all business class airlines were lacking. I think most business travelers would much rather accrue miles towards a free vacation with their family to somewhere exotic over slowly earning credits towards another ticket on an airline that has just one or two routes. I know many people that travel for work between NYC and LON frequently in full fare C/F, and that’s the sentiment I’ve heard over and over.
As far as I’m concerned none of these carriers could compete in terms of schedules (they only offered a few flights a day) and frequent flyer programs (not much excitement for most business travelers when the best you can redeem your miles for is the route you usually already fly).
If they could have somehow created an alliance I could see them being successful, but most business travelers don’t fly just a single route, yet want to stick with a single frequent flyer program to accrue points.
While I can see all three airlines “working” for certain people, that apparently wasn’t enough of a niche to be successful, especially with today’s conditions.
Speaking of low cost all business class airlines, how the heck is L’avion still in business? They only fly between NYC and CDG, have low prices, and have an average product at best based on what I can see. I don’t know, maybe they struck just the right part of the market, those budget conscious “premium” travelers that travel frequently between NY and Paris. I’m surprised they’re still alive, although I don’t know enough about them to truly pass judgment.