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13 April, 2006 - 11:42 By Staff Reporter

Luton Airport to host 'low fare' transatlantic business travel

Silverjet Ltd, the latest ‘low fare’ dedicated business class airline serving the region, is looking for £25 million investment through the London Stock Exchange to get its first routes airborne.Silverjet Ltd, the latest ‘low fare’ dedicated business class airline serving the region, is looking for £25 million investment through the London Stock Exchange to get its first routes airborne.

The London-based firm plans to launch a twice-daily service between London Luton Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport – just 16 miles from midtown Manhattan – by the end of this year.

Silverjet will seek to raise the necessary working capital to launch the airline and develop new routes through a May placing of new shares to institutional investors on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM).

More routes will be added in due course, chosen from where there is the opportunity to charge significantly lower fares for long haul, business class travel than the existing competition and where there is a high proportion of both business and leisure passengers.

It will work to a similar low fare airline model as that of short haul, low fare carriers, which as a sub-sector have demonstrated significant returns to their shareholders in recent years.

Lawrence Hunt, Silverjet chief executive, said: “There is a significant opportunity to bring low fare principles to the long haul business market. Market research has shown that passengers are currently not satisfied with the value of business class services on offer.

“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. We will be offering passengers an outstanding service at an affordable price which we hope will revolutionise the long haul business class market.”

MaxJet and EOS were the first ‘low fare’ business class airlines to fly from the region across the Pond, both starting a route from London Stansted to New York’s JFK International at the end of last year.

Silverjet’s target audience consists of four groups: small and medium sized businesses, upmarket leisure customers, connecting passengers and employees of larger corporate customers.

The airline hopes that within three years it will be operating a fleet of 10 aircraft, each of which will be configured with inclined flat beds.

At an average price of £999 for London-New York return, the airline claims its prices will be substantially below existing fares for flat bed business class travel and also below current average fares for premium economy travel.

Its average return fare for the London-New York route is expected to be £999. This compares to current prices, other than limited period promotional fares, for a flat bed business class service of between approximately £2,500 to £5,000, and £750 to £5,000 for a cradle seat, business class service.

The Silverjet service promises to offer its customers:

• Significantly reduced check-in times, as low as 30 minutes, using private jet terminals at airports where this is possible;

• Inclined flat beds;

• Premium in-flight service, catering and entertainment, including pre-ordered films and personalised pre-ordered meals;

• End to end customer journey management.

By choosing Luton and Newark, Silverjet also believes it will save on landing and take-off delays caused by congestion produced from greater traffic at rival airports both round London and New York.

Other advantages identified by Silverjet’s directors are:

• Luton has the second highest proportion of business users of all London airports;

• Luton has the largest 120 minute catchment area of any of the four major London airports and has excellent transport connections from central London. In addition, Silverjet will offer valet parking, a chauffeur or a personalised helicopter service at an additional cost;

• Luton is not governed by the bilateral agreement between the US and UK, meaning that there are no restrictions on the number of airlines flying between Luton and the United States.

The rest of Silverjet’s management team brings together several decades of experience in the airline and travel sectors at companies including BA, Virgin Atlantic, Aer Lingus and in consultancy roles with other carriers such as Qatar Airways, Emirates Airlines, United Airlines, Siberia Airlines, Northwest Airlines and EasyJet and Ryanair.

Arden Partners has been appointed as sole Nominated Adviser and broker to Silverjet.

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