OpenSkies to fly New York-Amsterdam

OpenSkies is wasting little time in opening new routes while putting a premium on premium seating.

In  the space of a week last month, the new British Airways subsidiary closed on its acquisition of French airline L'Avion, rolled out plans to launch a route between New York and Amsterdam and unveiled a cabin configuration that will remove the 30 economy seats from its 757s in favor of more premium-class seating.

Launching New York-Amsterdam service on Oct. 15 will be a major strategic move for the carrier. For decades KLM has held a vice grip on air traffic through the Amsterdam hub, with virtually no real transatlantic competition into the U.S. other than SkyTeam Alliance partners such as Delta, Northwest and Continental (which is defecting to the Star Alliance).  

"We're expanding to Amsterdam because of its significance as a business and cultural capital in Continental Europe and the opportunity to bring premium service to travelers on another route across the Atlantic," said Dale Moss, managing director. Tickets for the Amsterdam-New York route will go on sale early this month.

British Airways announced the Amsterdam service just days after it completed the purchase of L'Avion, which is slated to be fully integrated with OpenSkies in early 2009.

OpenSkies operates between Paris Orly Airport and New York Kennedy, while L'Avion operates between Orly and Newark. Both use 757 aircraft. 

OpenSkies will offer 180-degree, lie-flat beds in business class on the New York-Amsterdam route and is expanding its premium-class cabin from 28 to 40 seats, which feature a 140-degree recline. 

With the change, which involves the elimination of economy seating, OpenSkies planes will carry only 64 passengers: 40 in premium and 24 in business. 

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