Air France’s LAX-London Open Skies Experiment Ends

Delta put out a press release last week entitled “Delta to Offer 180-Degree Full Flat Beds to Heathrow From New York and Atlanta.” Sounds thrilling right? Not so much. But buried in that release was a little note that says “Air France has announced that it intends to discontinue Air France Ends LAX LHRservice between Los Angeles and Heathrow as it adds the new nonstop Heathrow flight from New York.”

Very interesting. So the first true Open Skies experiment, where one European airline flew from another European country to the US, has ended in failure. Is anyone really surprised?

This route was questionable from the beginning but it was doomed within a few months. When Air France first announced it would fly the route, I was surprised. You can already fly nonstop from LAX to London on BA, Virgin Atlantic, United, American, and even Air New Zealand. So was there really a need for yet another flight?

Probably not, but there wasn’t a SkyTeam presence on the route, and Delta was in the midst of building up its LA hub operation. So, Air France must have thought it was worth a shot. Apparently, they were wrong.

I would be surprised if the route ever looked good, but once Delta dismantled its hub operation in LA, that had to be the death knell. Without any Delta feed, I can’t imagine this one had a shot. Now Air France will instead fly one flight a day from New York to London to complement Delta’s two flights. What’s the point? They want a piece of the rapidly shrinking financial services business? This seems like somewhat of a waste of a 777 to me, but maybe they’ll find a way to make this one work better than they did in LA.

Something tells me that Air France shouldn’t be focusing on London, but that’s for them to figure out.

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22 Comments on "Air France’s LAX-London Open Skies Experiment Ends"

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daren_siddall
Member

I agree CF it was a crazy move in the first place. Just checked, AF has some bargain basement prices for the last few flights!

I think there is also going to be a ton of capacity in the LHR-JFK market very soon. I wonder if BA will re-think its LCY launch?

Dave S
Guest

It is key to remember the DL-AF joint venture. JFK-LHR 3rd daily is something DL probably very much wanted to be more competitive in the market. Delta’s flying a 757 Lyon-NYC for AF right now since AF doesn’t have any small that can cover the distance, so its a wash.

David
Guest
I’m not sure that one can call Openskies a real failure. Provided the threat of one airline flying from another country (e.g. that of AF flying from LHR) is credible, it will ensure that airlines keep standards higher and fares lower. In any case, AF is pretty much obliged to have some sort of action in response to BA setting up at Paris. This could be basing a 777 at LHR, or it could be lowering Paris-NYC fares to make life difficult for BA. If AF do neither, they are handing a prize over to BA. The LHR-JFK route still… Read more »
kt74
Guest
I think there’s a rumour about BA postponing LCY-JFK, but that might be a capacity issue (apparently A320s are needed urgently at LHR and Airbus narrowbody delivery slots can be swapped) An extra 2×32 premium seats ex-LCY will be a drop in the ocean compared to the sea of ex-LHR flights, and should easily be filled by BA’s corporate contracts with the (remaining) banks in Canary Wharf (e.g. Lehmans might have gone, but Barclays has picked up Lehman’s US business) The question is who will lose out ex-LHR if 64 seats are going to LCY and overall banking demand is… Read more »
A
Guest

Two to three years ago I noticed that my corporate (domestic) travel was starting to be cut back here and there. Then we started to hear about all the domestic overcapacity and planned reductions. I wonder why?

My guess is corporate international travel has been/is being cut and we’ll soon hear of more international capacity reductions in all markets. Bad timing for Air France, but wouldn’t necessarily call it Delta’s fault. If there were demand I’m sure the flight would stick, Delta or not.

Steven Frischling
Guest
“I think there is also going to be a ton of capacity in the LHR-JFK market very soon. I wonder if BA will re-think its LCY launch?” Daren, BA entering LCY with mainline aircraft would be risky, unless the aircraft was an A318, stripped out with business class seating only and no cargo. As LCY has demanding requirements for aircraft to allowed to operate from the airport, and I don’t believe the A319 can operate on the airports steep approach. I believe the maximum range of the A318 is 3,240 miles, while the JFK-LCY flight would be 3,472 miles. I… Read more »
Steven Frischling
Guest
“So the first true Open Skies experiment, where one European airline flew from another European country to the US, has ended in failure.” Look at BA’s ‘Open Skies’ (the airline, not the agreement). ‘Open Skies’ while operated by BA is not technically a British Airline, it is an EU airline. The airline’s routes are between New York-to-Amsterdam/Paris. The airline does not operate to, or through the UK. I would say so far this airline is an interesting experiment of Open Skies and it appears to be doing quite well. Other airlines operate under the 7th freedom and 5th freedom agreements… Read more »
Steven Frischling
Guest
Cranky, I had read about BA entering the JFK-LCY route a few times in the past, but is it really in the airlines best interest? It would require BA to have a sub-fleet of A318 aircraft for one route. The route would be better served by outsourcing the route to a carrier such as PrivatAir that specializing in these types of routes. Additionally, with the Heathrow Express putting passengers into Central London in 15 minutes, is there a real advantage to LCY? These passengers would be premium business class flyers. A business class flyer gets to fast-track Immigrations at LHR,… Read more »
euroschu
Member

CF – what a sad ending to a flight I had the privledge to fly a half dozen times since it started. The service on AF was always excellent (no surprise there). The Business cabin was consistently at 80%+, so I am a bit surprised. But let’s face it — AF knows where the profit is and apparently it wasn’t with LAX-LHR.

Au revoir AF…………….

David
Guest
Steven – the main terminal at Luton is geared very much towards budget airlines. It’s functional, but no more than that – it could hardly be called luxurious. When Silverjet were still flying, they had their own separate mini-terminal. Stansted is more plausible for network carriers although it’s the main no-frills airport for London. American used to fly there last year – mainly as a spoiler against Eos. Now Eos is no more, AA have reverted to just LHR. A non-aligned network carrier might be interested in STN – but I very much doubt an airline within an alliance would… Read more »
Steven Frischling
Guest
David, The draw to Luton would be the separate terminal which can be geared towards a business class only flight. While there is a heavy emphasis on low cost carriers, I think SilverJet had a concept that was far enough outside the box that it could become a popular business concept. Both Luton and Stansted have more flexibility in terms of flight times, without having to jockey for, or pay for, slot assignments. The costs of doing business out of either Luton or Stanstead are more affordable than Heathrow and Gatwick. While the Heathrow Express is 15 minutes to London… Read more »
David
Guest
LCY has the huge advantage of being only 20 minutes door-to-door taxi ride away from London’s main financial centre in Canary Wharf. If budget cuts are really that severe, you can get the subway from Canary Wharf to LCY in 20 mins. The other traditional financial centre around Broadgate also takes 20 mins by subway to LCY. In addition, check-in at LCY for all flights is just 15 mins. The 15 mins by train to Heathrow is a slight misnomer – as far as companies go, Paddington is too far west to be called central London. To get from the… Read more »
Bobber
Guest

Wonder whether United is secretly patting itself on the back for pulling out of LHR-JFK, to avoid this particular bunfight?

Simon
Guest
Steven When the economy picks up, I can see trans-atlantics returning to STN. It’s close to “silicon fen”, the booming area around (the University of) Cambridge. But at the moment I don’t think that market justifies any flights, and the trip into London is a bit too slow – although the trains do go into the City financial district rather than Paddington. Immigration queues are not at all shorter than LHR though, and the airport is now notorious for baggage delays. So I don’t think it’s any quicker than LHR to/from central London. LTN will never work. The rail connection… Read more »
Steven Frischling
Guest
Simon, Looks like AF’s LAX-LHR should stop on the 6th of November. ……..I think JFK-LCY obviously has legs, BA wants it. However the cost of is quite high. I believe an all business class A318 should hold approximately 36 passengers, obviously this depends on the configuration, but can a route that flies at max 36 passengers be sustained? Yes, LX and LH operate 738 aircraft from NYC to ZRH and MUC (I have flown the EWR-ZRH route), however the banking business between ZRH and MUC is different than London. London is a major financial hub, but not in the same… Read more »
Brandon
Guest

I actually flew this flight – can’t say I was thrilled with it. The service was very “French” and I’d much prefer BA or Virgin if given the opportunity. (Truth be told, the only reason I booked it was because they offered a cheap fare. One that even Delta didn’t match for flying on the exact same day, and flight just as a “code share”.)

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