British Airways Launches Luxury Route
Airline Creates All-Business London/New York Service
BA1 lifted off from London City Airport today beginning that airline’s attempt to create a successful all-luxury airline service between London and New York. Sounds vaguely familiar? That’s because several other airlines have tried, and failed, to create the same service. Eos, MAXjet, and Silverjet all served the luxury market for a short time during great economic prosperity before ultimately failing. Why does BA think it will be any more successful now when the world economy is sputtering and they themselves are planning to cut routes and ground 9% of their fleet this winter due to “declining advanced bookings”?
I see several shortcomings with their service. First, choosing the Airbus A318, an aircraft that does not possess the range for transoceanic flights (East to West, against the prevailing headwinds) seems a dubious way to start off. BA sugarcoats this by departing from London City Airport, which will allow very short check-in and boarding times, but has a short runway “forcing a stop in Shannon, Ireland for fuel and to clear customs.” To be clear, it is not just the short runway at London City causing a needed stop - the A318 simply cannot fly the distance without refueling. Next, and to me, the elephant in the room is the fact that BA is attempting to supply a private aviation product aboard a commercial airliner, flown by a commercial airline, along commercial routes, and into commercial hub airports.
Ultimately, no matter how flat, wide, or comfy the seats are, despite the nearly endless on-board entertainment options, and the ability to connect to the internet, BA’s luxury service is still airline travel. Travel that is subject to adverse weather, airport congestion, equipment malfunctions, and delayed departure/arrival times. Does it matter how quickly and painlessly London City Airport makes the check-in process if the aircraft has not yet arrived from New York on the East-bound leg?
BA should know better and leave the luxury private aviation segment to private aviation. You just can’t put a shine on a sneaker.