BA’s OpenSkies to Stop Growing; Is Death on the Horizon?

Looks like we’re seeing the beginnings of yet another failed attempt at using the EU-US open skies agreement to open new business opportunities. OpenSkies, British Airways’ attempt at launching an all-premium airline to fly to New York from Continental Europe, will keep running for now, but all future growth plans have been put to a halt.

Originally, OpenSkies was supposed to get a few more planes as BA’s 757 fleet was slowly pulled out of mainline service. Now, Financial Times is reporting that the remaining 11 of BA’s 757s will be sold. I’d bet those planes will go to a cargo carrier, though a BA spokesperson simply said that “British Airways is reviewing possible opportunities for the 11 Boeing 757 aircraft in the mainline fleet at Heathrow.” That leaves only the four airplanes currently flying for the airline (2 for OpenSkies and 2 under subsidiary L’Avion).

Sounds to me like BA has given up on this one. They’ll let them continue flying New York to Paris and Amsterdam or now, but if they see no future growth opportunities to the point where they’re selling all their other 757s, then this has to be living on borrowed time, I’d imagine. I suppose it’s not a surprise in this climate, but if they saw any hope for recovery, they wouldn’t sell off all those 757s.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the airlines super-premium economy class called Prem+. This class if far better than the World Traveller Plus that BA flies on its mainline aircraft, but it received rave reviews. I wonder if we’ll see Prem+ migrate to the mainline fleet at some point or whether it just didn’t make economic sense.

Once again, an attempted use of the open skies policy has failed. Maybe the ill-advised United/Aer Lingus plan will work, but somehow I would be surprised to see that one even get off the ground. I’ll be very curious to see when some airline is finally able to figure out how to profit off these new freedoms.

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