In Homer’s ancient tale The Odyssey, there are a few themes. One of them is about hospitality and the other is about Perseverance. London City-based startup Odyssey Airlines is attempting a model that has failed many times, despite its predecessors offering the best in hospitality. Odyssey hopes to be a business only carrier that makes it through!
Odyssey has raised five million dollars through Crowdcube, a crowdfunding platform and other funding sources. The airline plans to launch flights in 2016 from London City to an unspecified airport in New York. Once the carrier is up and running, it plans to raise a further $US60 million and expand operations into Canada, mainland Europe and the Middle East
Odyssey has ordered ten Bombardier CS100s, with options for five more. The CSeries, designed to compete with the Boeing 737, Airbus A320 family and Embraer 195, burns 20 percent less fuel than these competing aircraft. One of the plane’s key appeals is that it can take off using the 1,500-metre (4,900 ft) runway at London City. Odyssey is arguing that using London City to operate a non-stop service reduces travel time and flight time compared with travel from Heathrow to New York.
Interestingly, Founder and CEO of Odyssey Adam Scott was involved in the creation of another business only flight. British Airways London City to NYC service uses an Airbus A318. Because the plane cannot take off with enough fuel for the full journey it refuels at Ireland’s Shannon where passengers go through US Customs and immigration. This does give them a faster arrival in NYC.
Odyssey will fit their aeroplanes with 40 Business Class seats and charge passengers “a competitive fare” for a “premium product”. They are being coy about most of their features but are promising the longest beds in the air!
There’s a vast difference between an airline offering Business Class only flights and an all Business Class airline. The field is littered with start-ups that have tried-and failed.
Does anyone remember the other business class only airlines?
- Eos flew from New York to London Stansted on October 18, 2005 and despite winning a stack of awards ceased April 27, 2008.
- L’AVION operated between Orly Airport, Paris and Newark in the USA from 3 January 2007 . It was taken over by British Airways on 2 July 2008 and merged into their Open Skies
- MAXjet Airways started as a low cost carrier and morphed into all-business class carrier with flights from London Stansted Airport to Las Vegas, Los Angeles International Airport, and JFK. Flew from 1 November 2005 to 24 December 2007
- MGM Grand Airlines operated between New York City to Los Angeles from 1987 to 1994 with 33 seat 727s
- OzJet flew one domestic route in Australia for three months from November 2005. On some flights cabin crew outnumbered passengers!
- Silverjet, a British all-business class airline flew from 25 January 2007 to 30 May 2008 from London Luton to Newark and Dubai using Boeing 767s. They won an environmental award for their carbon offset program and a stack of other awards. Scott has recruited staff who worked for silverjet
CEO Adam Scott says that these airlines operated under different business models: flying older, more inefficient aircraft and flying into airports further out than London City. Even so six months before its demise Maxjet was operating with an 83.1% load.
Odysseus’ journey lasted 20 years. I remain to be convinced that Odyssey will survive that long in months. Given the choice between BA One World frequent flyer points but one stop service or Odyssey non stop which one will be enticing? And what will stop British Airways acquiring their own CS100s?
Good luck to those who set out on this Odyssey. How long do you think their voyage will last?