Affluence over the Atlantic

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LONDON - Despite turbulent times for most airlines, luxury travel across the Atlantic is alive and well on Eos Airlines.

A year after its first flight, the high-end airline is using channels like e-mail, print, MySpace banner ads and search to lure business and leisure travelers to its e-commerce site at www.eosairlines.com.

"Everything we do has a call to action for the Web," said Adam Komack, senior vice president of advertising and direct marketing for Eos, Purchase, NY. "It is important to draw people to the Web site because Eos is an experiential product and the Web best shows off the experience."

Flying Eos Airlines is like staying at the Ritz in the air: the food is gourmet, every seat turns into a private bed and the staff harkens to the glamour days of air travel. The name Eos refers to the Greek goddess of the dawn, which seems appropriate when waking refreshed after the flight to London.

Travelers may check in up to 45 minutes before the international flight. Passengers are greeted by a curbside host who offers check-in and escort service through security to the gate. The planes are Boeing 757s, which normally hold 220 seats but are configured with only 48.

The airline recently expanded service from one flight a day to two between New York's JFK Airport and London's Stansted Airport. This comes as sales have risen 62 percent since earlier this year.

Marketing e-mails include messages tailored to travelers' purchase experience or educational messages to prospective clients or their travel agents. The main audience of these messages is business to business. Eos targets travel agents and corporate travel managers who book travel in-house for major firms, especially financial institutions. Messages go directly to these agents or to customers who have opted in.

But leisure travelers have not been forgotten. This season Eos is offering holiday promotions to target consumers rather than the BTB sector, which slows during the holidays. These include a $999 holiday fare between New York and London during Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as a free companion fare from now through St. Valentine's Day.

The airline's main competitors are the first-class rooms of more established carriers like British Airways. MAXjet, a similar airline with a high-end look and a New York to London route, launched this year.

Mr. Komack said that word of mouth has been a strong marketing message because most clients are professionals used to networking. This has helped spread the word for the airline in its first year.

Most of the travel is booked through the travel agent industry standard GDS system, followed by phone sales and then the Web. Though the Web is third in sales, Mr. Komack said that it is important in terms of sales because it is a key educational tool.

The five-year plan for the airline includes flying to 11 or 12 destinations and multiple flights a day where logical. Mr. Komack said that the niche market keeps Eos competitive in a troubled airline industry.

"During the London security scare, our UK bookings went up 33 percent," he said. "We did not have as much trouble as the major airlines had during this scare. It is much easier to manage 48 people than it is to manage 300."

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