GOLDEN AGE OF AIR TRAVEL?
"Airbus has unveiled a novel “super first class” concept on its revamped A380 cabin mock-up in Toulouse which could debut on the aircraft with some of the early operators."
I'm really doubting this will ever see production. With walk-up business class fares on New York to London hovering around $8,000 return, somehow I doubt there would be a market between this level, and that of the private jet. Perhaps on Emirates or Singapore, (as the article indicates), but when you consider how much space is being taken up in this suite, it doesn't seem sustainable. It is always frustrating to see the mock-ups of new airplanes, because all of the artist renditions show these lovely, luxurious spaces with workout centers, lounges, etc. The reality is each available square inch will be crammed with seats.
I am intrigued with the new entrants into the NYC-London route, Maxjet and Eos. The former offers promotional fares for around $1500 return for the route (similar to a premium economy fare on Virgin), but offers a better seat, better meals, better lounge access, and the fact that you don't have to deal with the terrible Heathrow 7am customs queue, though you do have to fly into Stansted. Early reports from friends indicate a satisfying experience, though they only have one plane going back and forth, meaning if your flight is canceled, things get messed up.
Eos is much more expensive, but based on the reviews I've read, is quite nice. They advertise 48 people on a plane built for 220, and the meal service, amentities, etc are all first class. For now, according to today's Times, "the airline is breaking even financially. June load factors will be above 70 percent, and 100 corporate clients have signed up. Eos said it would add a second daily flight between New York and London Stansted Airport in September.
It will be very interesting to see how both of these fare (har har) going forward. There is a market for what they're providing, but it comes down to execution and sustainable business models in an increasingly difficult sector.
According to Dan Crivello, a MAXjet pilot, "MAXjet is acquiring more airplanes to have spares. We just took delivery of airplane number 3 and have put bids on airplane 4 and 5.
In the meantime, rest assured. MAXjet has a reciprocal agreement with Virgin Atlantic and will book you on that airline if there is cancellation."