“Boutique airline” MAXjet Airways today requested that its shares be suspended in advance of a statement from the airline about its rather precarious financial situation. MAXjet flies five Boeing 767-200s from London-Stanstead to three US cities (JFK, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles) with around 100 leather seats apiece and four-course meals (not to mention champagne cocktails and canapés). The airline went public in June, but has since flown into a rough patch (their stock has fallen 50% and new route from London to Washington was axed, in addition to planned service to Miami starting next February).
Not all the news is negative, though. MAXjet carried 47% more passengers last month than it did last November, while the airline’s load factor increased 11% to 69%. But although more seats are being filled, MAXjet is finding it harder to make money. Lots of factors – increased competition with carriers like Silverjet and EOS, high oil prices, and a weak US dollar (which particularly affects an airline with so much UK-based traffic) could be to blame. The airline’s loss increased to $49.5 million in the first half of 2007, up from $30.4 million in the same period a year ago.
According to MAXjet, everything is business as usual, for now. The airline’s announcement about its finances, according to a statement released by the airline, will “be made as soon as possible”. “The company wishes to confirm to its employees, customers and suppliers that business continues to function as normal.” Whether or not MAXjet will be able to get over this remains to be seen – the transatlantic business travel market is notoriously competitive, and with British Airways getting in on the game soon, things aren’t likely to ease up. If BA arch-rivals Air France or Lufthansa also consider entering the premium transatlantic market at a more competitive rate (and Lufthansa has already made moves towards doing this), they could seriously jeopardize the futures of all-business class airlines like MAXjet.