US start-up business jet operator Bliss Jet has pushed back the launch of scheduled transatlantic service from January to the second quarter of 2017 to give it more time to “tie up loose ends”.
Bliss Jet had planned to kick-start services on 8 January, flying Gulfsteam G450s and G550s between New York LaGuardia and London Stansted.
“We set ourselves an overly ambitious deadline, which wasn’t necessary,” says Bliss Jet founder and chief executive David Rimmer. “Nearly everything is in place, including the aircraft and the service delivery. However, following market feedback we have decided to introduce some changes to the service, so we get it absolutely right before we begin.”
A key revision is to the scheduled departure times. “We are moving the [New York] outbound flight from Sunday evening to Sunday morning, to eliminate the overnight element on this sector,” says Rimmer. “Nobody wants to arrive for work on a Monday, having flown the ‘red-eye’.” The return flight will depart London on Thursday evening rather than Friday morning. “From the feedback we received, most people want to arrive in the USA early on Friday,” he says.
Bliss Jet is targeting business- and first-class airline passengers who are looking for a convenient and upmarket alternative to the transatlantic carriers. The service is also aimed at business aircraft users who are looking at a lower-cost alternative to whole-aircraft charter.
“The market response has been positive,” Rimmer says. “We hope this early enthusiasm translates into ticket sales.”
Flights will be sold on a per-seat basis, at a cost of $12,000 each way. “This is equivalent to a British Airways full first-class fare,” he says. “But the experience is exponentially different.”
Bliss Jet will offer 10-seat G450 and G550 large-cabin, long-range business jets – operated by US charter company White Cloud – between Sheltair Aviation’s fixed-base operation at LaGuardia and Inflight Jet Centre’s VIP terminal at Stansted.
“Passengers completely by-pass the busy commercial airports,” Rimmer says. “Not since the days of Concorde has a door-to-door journey between New York and London been this fast or this refined.”
Given the high frequency of commercial airliner services between New York and London, Bliss Jet is confident its offering will be a success.
“There are 30 scheduled [commercial] return flights a day – many of which are sold out on a Sunday – and over 800,000 seats sold in business and first class every year,” Rimmer says. “We are looking for a market of around 1,000 seats a year – a tiny fraction of the current demand.”
Bliss Jet plans to add two more third-party operators to its line-up within months, to bolster the fleet. “These companies operate G550s, [Dassault] Falcon 7Xs and [Bombardier] Global-series aircraft, all of which have transatlantic range,” he says.
Within three years, however, the company plans to operate its own fleet. “We would like to buy or lease our own aircraft eventually, as this will give us total control of the service,” Rimmer says.