Primera Air has today, Monday 1 October 2018, suspended all operations with immediate effect.
Its scheduled transatlantic flights today from London Stansted Flight PF41 to Newark and Flight PF47 to Washington Dulles have been cancelled.
Primera Air has been in operation since 2004. It only entered the consciousness of the UK travelling public over the past year with the launch of transatlantic flights.
By any measure, its transatlantic operations had got off to a difficult start. Flights from Birmingham were suspended shortly after launch. At Stansted, the airline had to lease aircraft to cover late deliveries of new Airbus A321 aircraft, with some flights carrying very substantial delays. Late aircraft substitutions also meant that some flights had to stop in Reykjavik for refuelling.
This had not deterred Primera Air’s ambitions. It had planned to launch transatlantic flights from Berlin, Brussels, Frankfurt and Madrid next summer.
This year has proved to be a difficult one for small transatlantic airlines. Norwegian has cancelled all transatlantic flights from Belfast and Edinburgh. It has also had to wet lease aircraft to cover some flights from London Gatwick.
Whilst low cost long-haul airlines have proven that there is a market for an unbundled long-haul economy product, they have illustrated how difficult it is for small airlines to manage long-haul operations. They do not have the schedules and fleets, nor the alliance and joint-venture partners, to cover aircraft availability issues.
Repatriation Flights & Rescue Fares
The UK Civil Aviation Authority has issued the following guidance for passengers who have booked flights with Primera Air.
Put simply, as Primera Air is not regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority it will not be arranging any repatriation flights.
For passengers who have booked flights, the best advice is to contact your credit company. For passengers who need to return home, your travel insurer may be able to assist.
In the past when airlines have collapsed, other airlines have announced “rescue fares” where you can buy a ticket for the same price as your original fare. These may be announced in the coming days.
Update Tuesday 2 October 2018
A number of European airlines have offered special fares for routes matched by Primera Air. In some cases you will need to provide evidence of an existing reservation with Primera Air at the time of booking and possibly at check-in.
British Airways is offering special fares, but only for those who are stranded and need to return to London. These can only be booked by contacting BA directly.
Norwegian is offering a discounted fare for London Gatwick – New York JFK for travel up to 14 October 2018. This can only be booked by calling +47 210 16771.
Ryanair is offering special fares from London Stansted to Malaga, Gran Canaria and Tenerife. These are available up to midnight Thursday 4 October for travel up to March 2019. These can be booked through Ryanair
Virgin Atlantic is offering a distressed traveller fare. This is available by calling 0344 8747747. Bookings can be made up until 16 October 2018, for travel available to 31 October 2018.
Full Company Statement
Here is the full statement issued by Primera Air.
October 1st, 2018
With a great regret, we must inform you that Primera Air will cease all operations on the midnight of October 1st, 2018 and enter administration process, after 14 years of operations.
This is a sad day for all the employees and passengers of Primera Air. The company has been working relentlessly during the last months to secure the long-term financing of the airline. Not being able to reach an agreement with our bank for a bridge financing, we had no other choice than filing for bankruptcy.
During the last 2 years, several unforeseen misfortunate events severely affected the financial standing of Primera Air. In 2017, the company lost one aircraft from operations due to severe corrosion problems and had to bear the total cost of rebuilding, resulted in a loss of more than 10 million euros. 2018 began with a fantastic start of our low-cost long-haul project with a brand-new Airbus 321neo fleet, however, due to severe delays of aircraft deliveries this beginning ended up being rocky and incredibly problematic: operational issues, cancelations of number of flights, loss of revenues are just a few to mention. In addition, to fulfill our obligations in front of passengers, Primera Air leased in aircraft and beared additional costs of over 20 million euros.
Weighting the potential losses due to future delivery delays, and the added exposure to our partners and lessors, and bearing in mind the difficult environment that airlines are facing now due to low prices and high fuel costs, we have decided to cease operations now, where it will have a smaller effect on our clients, due to the timing of the year, rather than increasing the exposure. Without additional financing, we do not see any possibility to continue our operations.
This is an enormous disappointment after the incredible hard work and dedication put into building the airline. The company wants to sincerely thank all its employees for their hard work and dedication, its clients for years of loyal support and its suppliers for their cooperation during the years.
The board of Primera Air