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All-business-class carrier Silverjet shuts down

In a disarmingly heartfelt note to customers, Silverjet CEO Lawrence Hunt explained his airline’s closure as the result of “unforeseen circumstances” that prevented the carrier from securing the financing it needed to stay in business. The airline will cease operations May 30, though Hunt promised “we are working actively with new investors who are prepared to inject new funds so we can recommence operations.” British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are already offering special fares to ticketed Silverjet passengers.

And with that, three of the four major all-biz-class carriers (remember Eos and Maxjet?) operating between the U.S. and Europe have crumbled in the past six months, with only L’Avion (and British Airways’ subsidiary OpenSkies, which begins service June 19) remaining. Silverjet’s absence also means London will no longer be served by any all-business-class airlines, as L’Avion only serves Paris, as will OpenSkies.

Silverjet’s collapse comes on the heels of news that business travel in March showed the sharpest decline since 2003. This drop likely reflects the country’s slow economy, as well as increases in airfare due to rising fuel costs. A reduction in business travel is a significant development because airlines rely on those high-profit seats to offset the relatively weak revenue produced by coach travelers. Without a steady stream of cash coming from passengers paying premium fares to sit up front, carriers may be forced to extract that revenue from coach.

So as we bid adieu to yet another luxury carrier, average joes like us are left to wonder if dwindling numbers in the forward cabin will lead to higher fares in the rear.

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