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Era of Open Skies Ends – The LEVEL Switch Begins…

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Era of Open Skies Ends – The LEVEL Switch Begins…

Era of Open Skies Ends – The LEVEL Switch Begins…
September 10
17:00 2018

LONDON – The start of September has seen one airline shut its doors for good. Open Skies, set up by British Airways in 2008, had its last revenue flight on September 2.

The aim of this service was predominantly offering a premium branded service between Newark (EWR) and Paris-Orly (ORY), catering to primary business travelers.

READ MORE: LEVEL Vienna Hub Is Born: 7 New Flights Launched

The closing of this carrier has been mainly due to the absorption of assets into LEVEL, the next new venture placed by International Airlines Group (IAG).

From September 3, the ORY-EWR service has fallen under LEVEL’s operation, served with one of the airline’s Airbus A330-200s.

Although Open Skies’ fleet was very small, it ran smoothly for one decade between both cities.

Open Skies launched with two Boeing 757-200s (F-GPEJ and F-GPEK) in 2008.

These two initial 757s offered different configurations. F-GPEJ had 24 seats in First Class and 40 seats in Business Class (F-GPEJ), whereas F-GPEK had 20 seats in Business, 28 seats in Premium Economy and 66 seats in Economy.

F-GPEJ was the first aircraft to be phased out from the airline in March 2012, finding a new life with Privatair, now registered as HB-JJD.

F-GPEK remained with Open Skies until July 2018, before being transferred to TACV Cabo Verde Airlines as D4-CCF.

The airline’s third Boeing 757-200 (F-HAVI) was delivered in March 2009, offering the same configuration as F-GPEK. This aircraft left the carrier in May 2018 to Aerolease as N473AP.

READ MORE: British Airways Data Breach Affects 380,000 People

Finally, 2016 saw the airline expand their equipment to a Boeing 767-300 (F-HILU) in August 2016, which sat 24 people in Business, 24 in Premium Economy and 144 in Economy.

This was the latest aircraft to operate in the fleet and was transferred to storage in St Athan in Cardiff at the start of this month. 

F-HAVN, another Boeing 757-200, offering 20 seats in Business, 28 in Premium Economy and 66 seats in Economy has been sent to the desert.

This aircraft was delivered in April 2009 and is yet to be transferred elsewhere.

All Airbus Operations


LEVEL will resume operating these routes with two A330-200s (F-HLVL and F-HLVM), both offering 21 seats in Premium Economy and 293 seats in Economy.

PHOTO: Airlines Inform

In conclusion, the once-Premium Open Skies brand has morphed into LEVEL’s low-cost character.

READ MORE: British Airways Unveils Bold Expansion for London City

While LEVEL will continue offering less Business-branded products, it appears that the end of the Open Skies brand follows a change in consumer demand.

Moreover, the increasing presence of long-haul/low-cost airlines in the North Atlantic market, suggests that the Open Skies service was targeting a small niche that was not going to bring positive results to IAG in the long run.

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James Field

James Field

James is a passionate AvGeek based in Manchester, U.K who has been actively spotting for years. James has been an Aviation Enthusiast for 8 years and has a fond likening to Concorde! James hopes to grow in the aviation industry with journalism being his primary focus.

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