Silverjet seeks AIM listing for transatlantic travel

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The Independent Online

Silverjet announced yesterday that it wanted to raise £25m from a listing on the Alternative Investment Market to start the service from Luton airport to New York.

The new carrier would be taking on existing business-only luxury flights from MaxJet and Eos, which are both American owned and operated. Silverjet will also be in competition for passengers with the big established players such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

According to Silverjet, a flat-bed return on Eos or BA would cost more than £3,000. MaxJet, which charges about £850, does not offer seating that becomes a fully flat bed for sleeping on the journey. Silverjet's average fare will be £999. "We are offering an Eos product at MaxJet prices, said Silverjet's founder and chief executive, Lawrence Hunt. "And [compared with BA or Virgin], we are not using business class to subsidise the back of the plane, as we have no economy passengers."

There are some 4.5 million passengers a year between London and New York, about one-third of whom travel on business. "There is a huge market and a huge growth opportunity," Mr Hunt said.

He said that Silverjet would also target leisure travellers, with a "very low", though unspecified, fare for those who booked early. The airline will begin with a twice-daily service, and plans to become four times a day within two years. The company needs about 65 per cent of its seats to be filled to break even.

It will add other routes over the next three years. Passengers need arrive only half an hour before take-off as the airline will use Luton's facilities for private jets. In New York, the company will offer a helicopter ride from Manhattan to its plane at the city's Newark airport.

The stock market listing would give Silverjet a valuation of some £31m, with the money raised used to lease Boeing 767 wide-body planes. Mr Hunt will retain a 10 per cent stake in the company.