The successful start-up of four airlines offering all-business-class not only is flourishing but is also capturing the attention of the larger carriers, according to several reports.
The new carriers offer fares far below regular business and first-class seats. They also provide private departures and arrival lounges and let passengers avoid the usual crowds at the gate.
The four start-ups are Eos, MAXjet, Silverjet and L´Avion. Some only offer trans-Atlantic service.
"They chose those routes first because they are the most lucrative in the industry and flying them successfully proves they can compete with the big carriers," reported The New York Times.
All four airlines say that demand has exceeded their expectations with more than 70% of their seats filled.
"There clearly is a demand for a niche for an all-business-class offering," Richard Branson, president and founder of Virgin Airlines, told the Times.
Walk-up round-trip business fares on major airlines can approach $10,000, though corporations are often given discounts of up to 40%. But the all-business fares are still lower.
One example was a walk-up round-trip flight from New York to London on Eos, priced at $5400 (with flatbed seats), according to the Times.
Virgin and British Airways are among those looking at similar operations.
"Our research shows that 50% of business travelers say they are willing to pay an above-average price for a noticeably better quality travel time," said Harry H. Hartveldt, a senior analyst at Forrester Research.
The start-ups are all expanding and looking for new aircraft.