Open Skies, the all business class airline, is canceling their Washington to Paris (Orly) route as of October 28, and that means good news for last-minute travelers.
With no minimum purchase, enjoy fares of $750 round trip, including all fees and taxes, for departures from Washington (Dulles) for travel completed before October 28.
This is by far the best business class fare we’ve ever seen for this route, and isn’t being matched – so far as we can tell – for other airlines. We priced out departures and it seems like you could even leave tonight for a whirlwind weekend in the City of Love.
Perhaps we’ll see you there!
[Flickr via Dimitry B]
The United States and the European Union have signed an open skies agreement that makes it easier for airlines to buy one another.
This is the second open skies agreement between the two governments. The first open skies agreement took effect in 2008 and opened up transatlantic routes to all carriers. Previously some routes were limited to specific carriers.
This new agreement will allow foreign owners to have a majority stake in an airline. Until now, European airlines could only own 25% of a US carrier, and US airlines could only own 49.9% of a European airline. The new limits have yet to be set and the move still has to be approved by Congress.
The deal also equalizes rules on emissions, fuel, and noise, and establishes a closer cooperation with the carbon trading scheme. European airlines will also now be able to fly in and out of the U.S. without first landing or taking off in the EU. Expect more services to non-EU destinations by EU airlines in the near future.
What? You think Beyoncé has her own special private airplane with black velvet seat cushions and a bedazzled fuselage all covered in blingetty-bling (with a ring on it) and with bottles of Vitamin Water lined up like a rainbow in her mirrored mini-fridge? Well, she doesn’t. No doubt, girlfriend could afford it, but being the smart, sensible artist that she is, Beyoncé just chartered a plane from OpenSkies, the transatlantic all-business-class airline that flies nonstop between Washington, DC, New York City, and Paris.
Beyoncé and her entourage chartered the plane in February 2010 for the two-week South American leg of her recent “I AM… SASHA FIERCE” tour, beginning with a week of show dates in Brazil, followed by appearances in Argentina, Chile, Peru and finishing off with a last-stop carnival hurrah in Trinidad capital Port-of-Spain on February 18th. The Boeing 757-200 charter jet that carried her from gig to gig is compact but with long-range capacity and lots of luggage space for all those crazy stage sets and costume changes. The all-business-class layout offers two cabins, one with 24 BIZ BEDS (seats that convert into a 180° fully flat bed) and another 40 BIZ SEATS (which recline only to 140°). Of course, Beyoncé slept up front in one of the BIZ BEDS, while her hairdresser and makeup team were most likely hanging out in the back of the plane. Flight attendants reported that “Beyoncé’s really nice” but “not as tall as you think she is.” (Yeah, you already knew that.)
OpenSkies is known for its spectacular French gourmet meals (in spite of its affiliation with British Airways) but most suspect that 28-year old Beyoncé chose the airline for its signature color, which is vivid lavender (expressed inside the airplane’s lush interiors.)
So there it is. For all you Beyoncé fans who wonder how the Queen Bee travels from one sweaty stage to the next, that’s it.
OpenSkies, the all-business-class subsidiary of British Airways has always been fighting an uphill battle. At only one year old, the airline has always struggled to earn and maintain a customer base. Now with demand on the wane and airlines cutting back, OpenSkies might soon be on the chopping block.
The model, it seemed, was valid. A smaller plane with all business and first class seats could consume less fuel, sell fewer seats at a slightly higher price and still make a profit. But as Eos, Silverjet and Maxjet all showed, there just might not be enough demand for business class seats to warrant an entire widebody aircraft full of them.
Now, with British Airways launching business-class service between London (LCY) and New York on a tiny A318 aircraft, the niche crowd may move to that product. That leaves very little space for OpenSkies. According to The Guardian, this means that BA may want to sell of or cancel the service.
No official word has come from the BA, naturally, so the airline may survive yet. Having personally flown the service a few times, I hope they make it. But in a market as tight as this, the top of the hill is a long way off.
After the election of Barack Obama and a Democratic Party majority in the house and senate, British Airways CEO Willie Walsh sees little to be optimistic about as far as stateside operations go. Many European carriers would like to see additions to the Open Skies Agreement, which provided greater rights for foreign-owned airlines to operate within the US. Walsh is worried about Obama’s support of US labor groups. “I think it’s very clear Obama has taken a strong line in relation to any change in the ownership and control regulations. So at this point I would not be expecting any major progress to be made.”
Right now, foreign companies can have no more than a 25% share in US-based airlines. That is not likely to change, especially considering the weak state many airlines are currently in. With a rumored merger with American Airlines now seemingly out of the question, BA is focusing on partnering with AA to offer better trans-Atlantic service. Before going ahead with that, though, they must receive approval from US antitrust investigators.