British Airways Chooses Taxi, Horizon for Spinoff

New OpenSkies Airline Will Offer Direct Flights From New York to Paris

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- British Airways has awarded marketing duties for its new premium trans-Atlantic airline, OpenSkies, to a pair of independent agencies -- Taxi, New York and Horizon Media -- after a review, executives close to the matter say.
British Airways will launch OpenSkies this summer with direct service between Paris and New York.
British Airways will launch OpenSkies this summer with direct service between Paris and New York.

The start-up airline aims to take advantage of the long-awaited "Open Skies" treaty that went into effect last month, opening up aviation markets to allow more competition between airlines in the U.S. and European Union.

Paris express
Pending regulatory approval, British Airways will launch OpenSkies this summer with direct service between Paris and New York, and will later add destinations throughout continental Europe.

The new service plans for a fleet of six retrofitted Boeing 757s by 2009. Each aircraft will carry a maximum 82 passengers in three classes: "Biz", "Prem+" and economy. Promised features include leather seats (which in business class unfold to six-foot flat beds) a health-conscious menu and an extensive wine list.

Global spending on advertising for OpenSkies is unclear. British Airways spent a total of $28 million on domestic measured media in 2007, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Also-rans
According to executives close to the matter, Publicis Groupe agencies Publicis, New York, and Bartle Bogle Hegarty, the airline's agency of record, vied for the business, as did independent Nitro.

An OpenSkies spokesman declined to comment. A Taxi spokeswoman referred calls to the consultant managing the pitch process, Gilbert & Co., which did not return calls. Representatives for Horizon could not immediately be reached.

The winning team composed of Taxi and Horizon will handle creative and media duties, respectively, executives familiar with the matter said. Creative is likely to be focused heavily on print and out-of-home work, they said.

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Contributing: Megan McIlroy
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