Commercial aviation owes a lot to the so-called ‘Open Skies’ agreements that have enhanced network flexibility worldwide. However, did you know that if you remove the space between the two words, you instead get the name of a former French airline? Let’s take a look at what happened to this small, IAG-owned carrier.
How was OpenSkies established?
OpenSkies came into being in 2008, when UK flag carrier British Airways decided to expand its transatlantic operations into continental Europe. It felt that this would help to ease its dependence on its existing hub at London Heathrow, which served both long-haul flights to and from North America, and connections to and from neighboring Europe.
This enterprise saw it fly from the likes of Paris and Amsterdam to US East Coast destinations sub as New York and Washington DC. The airline was able to operate these routes thanks to an ‘Open Skies‘ agreement between the EU and the US. Its name conspicuously paid tribute to this legislation. In 2012, OpenSkies even joined the oneworld alliance, of which British Airways had been a founding member back in the late 1990s.
What aircraft did it operate?
According to Planespotters.net, OpenSkies operated five Boeing twinjets over the years. Four of these aircraft were examples of the single-aisle 757-200. Of these, two joined the airline in 2008 from British Airways, and the other pair in 2009 from L’Avion/Elysair.
Three of the four 757s featured a three-class, 114-seat configuration. This consisted of 20 business class seats, 28 in premium economy, and then a 66-seat economy cabin at the rear of the aircraft. The airline’s fourth 757 was far more premium-heavy, with just 64 seats (24 in first class and 40 in business class).
Boeing’s extensive widebody portfolio also saw a sliver of representation at OpenSkies. This came in the form of a single Boeing 767-300ER, which joined much further down the line in 2016. By this time, the three-class, 192-seat aircraft had already served British Airways for 26 years. As such, it was with OpenSkies for just two more years before being withdrawn in 2018 and scrapped the following year in St Athan, Wales.
Rebranding as Level France
After 10 years as OpenSkies, the airline was subjected to a rebranding program in 2018. This saw it renamed as Level France – of course, Level itself is also an IAG-owned brand. Additionally, the airline replaced its Boeing aircraft with three Airbus A330s, which also reflected a change in business model for the airline.
Indeed, while the original OpenSkies had been a premium-heavy, boutique operation, Level France took a more low-cost approach. Its A330s were more densely configured, with just 21 premium economy seats ahead of a 293-seat economy section which dominated the aircraft. However, the difficulties of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic forced this up-and-coming low-cost long-haul brand to cease operations in July 2020.
Did you ever fly with OpenSkies, either under its original guise or after it had been rebranded as Level France? let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!