FOXTROTS 

Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance. 

 2005 September 10 

Business-class-only airlines. Max, and Lux?

Two new airlines are due to start transAtlantic flights before the end of this year, both between New York Kennedy and London Stansted.  

US-based Maxjet plans low-fare operations – which it has now defined as around US$1600 roundtrip. It plans to use B767s; normally they have around 225 seats, but Maxjet’s will have 102.  

UK-based Eos plans to install 48 seats in a B757 instead of the normal about-200. Its fares will be around US$6500 roundtrip.  

Maxjet could be a success – but that depends partly on frequency (if once-daily, then fares need to be lower). And partly on what the industry calls ‘schedule integrity’ – will its flights operate more or less on time more or less all the time?  

But for Eos the risk is much greater – even if the product is good. Frequency needs to be at least daily – and preferably double-daily. Eos wants to start daily, this month, then increase to twice daily from January.  

Plus frequent-flyer points. Although road warriors have more than they can ever use, and find them difficult to use, don’t ever suggest taking them away. It’s like Dinky toys; keep them, marvel at how much they are worth, but never let them be taken away from you.  

But Eos will not be able to offer attractive FFP (because it has no other routes) – so that makes its fare level even more important. That means the price should not be much more than a (discounted) economy class ticket. Forget protests that it is offering a first-class product at business-class fares. Few people fly FC, and most of those that do are not worried about the price, but about the product.  

And the 'product' also includes frequency, FFPs, schedule integrity, and, possibly London Heathrow, not the secondary airport, Stansted – to catch connecting traffic. And not just comfortable seats and French not Australian champagne (sorry, but I do know that only the Champagne district of France is legally entitled to use that name).  

At US$6500, this will not work; even half that would probably be too much.  

Another problem for Eos is its name. Maxjet has got it right, but Eos? Lesson one in marketing should have told the backers to choose a name that will be remembered, and can be pronounced (some will say Ay-os, some Ee-os, and others Ay-o), and tells potential customers what it offers. How about Luxjet?  

Eos will need a special trick if it is to survive past Christmas.  

Meanwhile, watch out for another similar operation, from the US, but probably into London Heathrow – key for connecting traffic. And with feeder traffic support from the US also. The name is Primaris. More when I know more.