It was a little under ten years ago that the concept of the all business class airline gained traction in the UK.
In October 2005, Eos Airlines launched all business class flights to New York JFK from London Stansted using 48 seat Boeing 757 aircraft. Silverjet launched all business class flights from London Luton (using a private terminal) to New York Newark using Boeing 767 aircraft, later adding Dubai.
Whilst both airlines received very positive reviews and many industry accolades, Eos collapsed in April 2008 after an additional round of financing fell through at the last minute. Silverjet fell victim to rising oil prices shortly afterwards.
Both airlines did have a lasting impact.
British Airways launched an (almost) all business class operation from Paris to New York under the name OpenSkies. In 2009, BA also launched a twice daily all business class service from London City to New York JFK (via Shannon). Whilst there was talk of additional routes being added, none have materialised. Unsurprisingly, claims by Virgin Atlantic that it was looking into launching all business class flights never came to fruition.
In perhaps a sign of a recovering economy and the impact of falling oil prices, La Compagnie is to launch an all business class service from London Luton to New York Newark.
The airline will launch flights on 24 April, initially four times a week and progressively increasing after that.
The airline will use Boeing 757 aircraft (formerly owned by Icelandair) fitted with 74 lie flat seats. Entertainment will be provided with Samsung Galaxy tablets.
The London – New York market has evolved significantly in the past seven years.
United (having absorbed Continental) now flies from London Heathrow to New York five times a day. Delta and Virgin Alantic have nine daily frequencies. American Airlines and British Airways have up to sixteen daily frequencies.
This is what La Compagnie will be competing against, specifically when it comes to securing corporate contracts. La Compagnie will also need to instill confidence in its operation.
A key selling point for Eos and Silverjet was the ability to avoid Heathrow Horrors. Since then, Heathrow has improved significantly with the opening of Terminals 2 and 5. Virgin Atlantic also has its universally lauded Heathrow Upper Class Wing and Clubhouse.
That said, it would be remiss not to wish a new entrant well and many airlines have had to learn the hard way not to underestimate their competition.
La Compagnie is celebrating its launch by offering 500 business class returns for two for £1.007.. Travel must be taken by 31 August 2015 and tickets are limited in number to 250.
Solo travellers need not feel left out. La Compagnie is also offering a single return fare for £649. Travel must be taken by 30 August 2015 and the fare is available until 29 March 2015.