Can an airline succeed solely in the London – New York City market??


Millions of dollars have been spent to learn the answer to this question. Thus far, all indications are that it is not possible. But that doesn’t stop folks from trying. Apparently there is another billionaire out there looking to become a millionaire, because someone is apparently going to give it a another shot.

Odyssey Airlines is the supposed name of the upstart which is expected to launch operations between London‘s City Airport and New York City‘s JFK with a Bombardier CSeries jet in an all business class configuration. This service would compete directly with the twice daily service offered by British Airways on Airbus A318 jets, with the added advantage of not requiring the fuel stop in Ireland on the west-bound leg.

The operation would launch in 2014 or 2015, assuming the timeline for the aircraft deliveries doesn’t slip. Oh, and there is apparently no one out there who actually works for Odyssey Airlines, so none of these details can actually be confirmed, but that hasn’t stopped many from reporting on the potential.

Breaking into the aviation market is horribly difficult and expensive. Doing it on one of the most heavily trafficked routes – NYC-LON – where there are something like 30 daily frequencies split between at least 5 carriers is even more challenging. And doing it in an uncertain market where fuel costs are significantly higher than they were last time a couple upstarts tried to break in is almost certifiably crazy. On the plus side, the new aircraft will have lower operating costs, but that doesn’t come anywhere close to guaranteeing success.

Also of interest is that the company involved has supposedly ordered 10 aircraft. That’s way too many to operate only on the NYC route so it can be presumed that there might be other routes considered as well. I can think of a few others in the same range that would be likely candidates, but they are also heavily contested and there isn’t a whole lot of room on the margins to make it work.

Don’t get me wrong – I hope it actually launches and that I get a chance to fly on Odyssey. But, much like Maxjet, SilverJet and eos before them, I don’t expect that opportunity to last long.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

6 Comments

  1. If there really was a market here, someone else with an alliance tie in (along with its existing customer base) would do it.

    Will a frequent traveller give up *A / OW / ST elite level status, points, and benies to save an hour?

  2. Well, if they ordered 10 aircraft, they are apparently not planning to succeed solely with this market.

  3. The fuel stop in Ireland isn’t that big a problem. It means that you go through US pre-clearance and arrive in JFK as a domestic passenger. Saves as much time as it wastes, apparently.

    1. Agreed that the pre-clearance makes the fuel stop relatively a non-issue. With no loyalty program link and really only the ability to compete on price in a ridiculously saturated market it just doesn’t make sense.

      And until they actually announce what other routes they’re considering (I’d bet DXB is at least on the radar, maybe MOW, too) I’m OK saying that this is all they’ve got.

  4. Why DXB – because its another route where they’ll get a bloody nose? Are there that many people flying from LHR to DXB (vs. LHR-DXB-somewhere-else)?

    1. DXB was a guess based on the decent amount of money that is still swirling around in the region. There are still folks flying it on an O/D basis and if you’ve got a plane with only ~30 seats then it wouldn’t be so hard to fill up with that traffic. Or it would, but at least there is a chance. There are a few other oil destinations that seem possible at 4000 miles from LHR, but not many. The money isn’t there in Africa, the demand isn’t there in Europe and India is too far away (and probably lacks the demand, too). China is definitely too far.

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