Thursday, August 09, 2007

A change of heart for SilverJet? And dangerous times for Heathrow passengers?

That business class-only airline SilverJet never misses an opportunity to 1) promote itself or 2) take a pop at those without a luxurious Luton terminal all to themselves.

The latest missive from its PR agency has this rather bold claim:

"Passing through Heathrow Airport is more stressful than being mugged at knifepoint."
It turns out that SilverJet has commissioned a "scientific study" to look at stress levels of passengers passing through Heathrow Airport - and this the headline finding.

Four passengers were wired with chest monitors so leading neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis could measure their heart rates at various points.
"The shocking results from Dr Lewis’ experiment showed passenger heart rates peaked at four times their resting levels and physiological stress levels exceeded those recorded amongst Formula 1 racing drivers or free-fall parachutists.

"Some parts of the experience even proved to be more stressful than being mugged at knife point."
Far be if for Travolution to cast doubt on the study and its conclusions ("These findings help us to understand the stress points in the customer journey and enable us to completely remove them from the Silverjet service," said SilverJet boss Lawrence Hunt), but one concerned contact emailed us with this:

"Have any of these people ever been mugged at knifepoint? I have. Given the choice between going through that again or queing up for a flight at Heathrow, I'd take Heathrow in an instance."


To some, SilverJet's stance on Heathrow is actually quite confusing.

Back in February this year, Hunt wrote a letter to the then secretary of state at the UK's Department for Transport, Douglas Alexander, asking the government to support an "Open Skies" policy for transatlantic carriers.

As well as : allowing UK airlines other than Virgin Atlantic and British Airways to operate out of Gatwick and Heathrow to destinations in North America.

Hunt said the old Bermuda II agreement was:
"...a severe restriction on our ability to compete, grow, create jobs and provide our excellent service to both business users and leisure travellers.

"We and our investors would like to invest further in the development of Silverjet, but currently the opportunities for this are limited."
But when pressed on whether SilverJet had abandoned its desire to operate out of Heathrow, now that the Bermuda II agreement will be replaced by Open Skies from early next year, a spokesman sent us this response:
"Luton was chosen after careful evaluation of all of the London airports and offers passengers considerable benefits that would not have otherwise been achievable at other airports - namely that Silverjet has been able to operate from its own private terminal and is not restricted by BAA.

"The current situation at Heathrow highlighted recently in the media and the results of our own study only go to highlight the benefits of flying from regional airports such as Luton and in it’s current state of turmoil Silverjet wouldn’t entertain the idea of putting it’s passengers through the airport."
So that'll be that... We'll wait to see if SilverJet does become one of the eager airlines knocking on the doors of Heathrow in the run up to March 2008.

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

Technorati tags:


Anonymous said...

Heathrow may be stressful but Luton is downright depressing. Give me stress over the black dog of Bedfordshire anyday.

David Ourisman said...

In the new universe of business class carriers (Silverjet, MaxJet, Eox) operating to London's less crowded alternative airports, the best of all worlds would be convenient connecting business class service to the rest of Europe.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you have never flown out of Heathrow.

Any airlines that fly out of other airports will grab a chance to promote themselves.

At a time when the whole world turns against Heathrow and BAA for profiteering and a poor service are you coming to the rescue of the worst British airport?