British Airways’ chief executive is confident the airline’s first all-business service will be a success despite the sharp fall in passengers buying premium tickets.
Willie Walsh, who will be on the flight from London City Airport to JFK tomorrow (Tuesday, September 29), said:
“Our long tradition of delivering world-beating and innovative new services continues with the launch of this unique route.
“For the first time, the City has a tailor-made premium service to New York on its doorstep offering the most productive possible use of time for business people travelling between the two great financial districts.”
The new service will fly twice daily from London City to JFK, stopping for refuelling in Shannon Airport.
BA is using the airport to clear passengers for entry into the US to speed up immigration at the other end.
The plane will not stop on the return trip.
The A319 has just 48 specially-designed seats in a 2-2 configuration (see picture).
They differ from Club World in that they face forward and are lower to the ground.
Fares start at £1,901 return.
Passengers will be able to send emails, surf the web and use their BlackBerries and iPhones, in a first for the aviation sector.
The new service comes against the backdrop in huge falls in premium traffic over the past year. However, recently those falls have stabilized.
It also comes just over a year after the last of the three all-business transatlantic carriers collapsed.
MaxJet, Eos and Silverjet all tried to make the London to New York route work, but were hit by a combination of escalating fuel prices and a sliding economy.
Silverjet went into administration last year.
Last week BA announced that passengers who wish to choose their seats when they book will have to pay for the privilege. The new charges, which come into effect on 7 October, range from £10 to £60 and will hit people who wish to ensure they sit together on a flight or secure a window, aisle or emergency-exit seat.