After months of speculation, International Airlines Group (“IAG”) which is the parent company of Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling, has today confirmed is to launch a new low cost long-haul airline.
The airline is called “Level”. This is the first new airline launched by IAG in its six year history.
The airline will initially be based in Barcelona. It will launch on 1 June 2017 and its inaugural route will be Barcelona – Los Angeles which operate twice weekly.
Routes from Barcelona to Oakland California (three times weekly) will follow on 2 June 2017. Barcelona – Punta Cana (twice weeky) on 10 June 2017. Barcelona – Buenos Aires on 17 June 2017 (three times weekly).
The airline will intially operate with two brand new Airbus A330-200 aircraft with 239 seats in economy in a 2-4-2 configuration and 21 seats across three rows in premium economy in a 2-3-2 configuration.
In economy a seat pitch of 30″ will be offered with a 9″ personal entertainment screen. Checked baggage, extra leg room seats and hot meals can be purchased in advance. Food and drink, duty free goods, in flight comfort amenities such as blankets and pillows can be purchased on board.
In premium economy, a seat pitch of 37″ will be offered with a 12″ personal entertainment screen and noise-cancelling headphones.
Checked luggage (in addition to a free cabin bag), hot meals drinks and snacks, priority boarding, and in flight entertainment will be complimentary for customers flying in premium economy.
High speed internet connectivity will also be available for a charge for all passengers.
The availability of refunds and flight changes and seat selection will depend on the type of fare purchase in both cabins.
IAG promises one way fares economy from €99 and one way premium economy fares from €599.
Direct flights are on sale now at Flylevel.com
Connections will be available from Vueling’s short-haul network at Barcelona which, of course, operates from London Gatwick and Heathrow and a number of UK regional airports. However, flights with connections need to be booked via Iberia.com
Members of the Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia frequent flyer programmes will be able to earn Avios on all flights operated by Level.
The launch of Level is a clear competitive response by IAG to Norwegian which is launching new routes from a number of IAG markets in Europe. We have already seen a number of moves such as the launch by BA of routes from Gatwick to New York JFK, Fort Lauderdale and Oakland. BA is also planning to “densify” (that’s add more seats) some of its Boeing 777s to compete against Norwegian. We are likely to see further moves such as the launch of “unbundled” long-haul economy fares by Aer Lingus and BA.
As IAG have adopted a trans-national brand name, the airline will no doubt explore more routes from other European cities where connections from Vueling are available, such as Rome and Paris. Looking at the branding and marketing materials, IAG is actively pitching this airline at a younger market than many of its existing airlines. It will of course be interesting to see how this develops and whether it launches any routes from the UK.