Deal Bolsters Fledgling Business-Only Airline
British Airways subsidiary OpenSkies announced this week it has
completed its merger with L'Avion, the first all-business class
French airline. The combined airline, now referred to as OpenSkies,
offers customers a single Business Class brand for trans-Atlantic
As ANN reported, British Airways launched
OpenSkies in January 2008, to capitalize on the landmark US/EU
agreement... that BA had vehemently opposed, as it reduced the
airline's monopoly on gates at London Heathrow.
OpenSkies began daily flights between New York-JFK and
Paris-Orly in June, using a Boeing 757 taken from BA's mainline
fleet, configured with 64-passenger business-class seating. The
launch came right before the global economic recession, however,
leading to poor bookings... and speculation the
carrier's days were numbered.
OpenSkies acquired the French carrier in 2008, marking the first
European transatlantic merger to include full integration. That
appears to have bought OpenSkies some needed time.
"We are pleased that the completion of our merger with L'Avion
went very smoothly, and look forward to the array of opportunities
for the new airline," said Dale Moss, Managing Director of
OpenSkies. "Marc Rochet, former L'Avion CEO, was instrumental and
an invaluable resource leading the technical and operational aspect
of the merger. Amid the current economic environment, OpenSkies
offers the kind of value that is a rarity in the industry: A
premium flying experience without prohibitive costs."
Both airlines continue to work to integrate their respective
offerings into a single package. Noticeable changes include
renaming L'Avion's "BIZ" section into Biz Bed, complete with
lay-flat seats. L'Avion planes will also offer as many as 72 "Biz
Seats," slightly more than in the converted BA aircraft.
On former L'Avion planes, the "OpenSkies" livery will be painted
purple, "mixing in tones of L'Avion's signature purple as a tribute
to that airline." The last L'Avion plane is slated to be repainted
as OpenSkies next month.
The company's Operating Certificate is now located in France,
resulting in the company relocating headquarters to Orly, Paris,
one of OpenSkies' primary hubs. Additional employees will be based
in New Jersey.
The OpenSkies crew and management will be comprised of the top
team members from both airlines. Dale Moss will remain Managing
Director and Marc Rochet, former L'Avion CEO, is now Executive Vice