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New business class airline to launch

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Silverjet CEO Lawrence Hunt believes there will be strong demand for another business-class only airline.

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LONDON, England -- British and American business travelers will soon have a new low-cost airline to choose from for flights between London and New York.

Silverjet is expected to start its Luton to Newark business-class service six to nine months after it lists on London's Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in May.

Silverjet announced on Monday that it hopes to raise £25 million ($43.5 million) from institutional investors.

The company eventually wants to run a 10-aircraft fleet to other destinations. All 100 seats onboard the aircraft will have flatbeds and a full business class service will be offered, the company said.

There will also be significantly reduced check-in times -- as little as 30 minutes.

The airline will be based on a similar model to short-haul budget counterparts easyJet and Ryanair.

The first all-business airlines offering low-cost fares, MAXjet and eos, began operating between London and the U.S. in November.

Silverjet chief executive Lawrence Hunt has been working on developing the business for two years. Hunt has been involved in six start-up businesses since 1984.

He told the UK's Press Association that big airlines gain most of their profits from premium customers and lose money in economy class.

In effect, business class passengers were subsidizing economy class passengers, and by losing economy seats, prices can come down without any compromise in service, he said.

"Market research has shown that passengers are currently not satisfied with the value of business class services on offer," Lawrence said.

"We therefore believe that there is a real demand for a long-haul airline, operating on a low-cost basis yet offering a high-quality, business-class product."

Peter Owen, a former British Airways operations director, is Silverjet's chairman, while John Bavister, a former Thomas Cook and Airtours executive, is finance director.

Following the float, Mr Hunt will own a 10 percent stake in the business while a further 10 percent will be owned by the other five members of the management team.

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