International Airlines Group to launch new low cost long-haul airline “Level”


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.

American Airlines to launch daily flight from Los Angeles to Auckland from June 2016

American Airlines is to launch a daily flight from Los Angeles to Auckland, New Zealand from an as yet unspecified date in June 2016, the airline announced today.

The flight will be operated using its Boeing 787 Dreamliner and will be codeshared with Qantas, as part of the trans-pacific joint venture between the two airlines. The operation of the flight is subject to regulatory approval.

For UK based travellers, this does also provide another option to reach New Zealand via the US West Coast, albeit it’s not brilliantly timed for same-day connections, particularly on the return from New Zealand. The other option being Air Newland’s London Heathrow-Los Angeles-Auckland flight.

Here’s the timetable:

Los Angeles – Auckland

Depart Los Angeles 22:45 – Arrive Auckland 06:35 (Two days later)

Auckland – Los Angeles

Depart Auckland 13:20 – Arrive Los Angeles 06:30 (Same day)

Aer Lingus returns to Los Angeles and Newark, and launches Dublin – Hartford

As was widely tipped online, Aer Lingus has today announced it is to return to Los Angeles and Newark airports next year, and launch a new direct route from Dublin to Bradley International Airport in Hartford County, Connecticut. The latter route will be the sole transatlantic route from the airport.

Aer Lingus will fly five times a week to Los Angeles from Sunday 1 May 2016, and daily to Newark from Thursday 1 September 2016. Both routes will be operated by A330 aircraft. Flights for these routes are on sale now at AerLingus.com

Aer Lingus will also fly daily to Bradley International Airport from September 2016 and flights for this route are expected to go on sale 3 November. This route will be operated by a Boeing 757 aircraft.
Continue reading “Aer Lingus returns to Los Angeles and Newark, and launches Dublin – Hartford”

Air New Zealand offering special companion fare on London Heathrow – Los Angeles

Air New Zealand is offering a special “companion fare” for travel for two in business class on its London Heathrow – Los Angeles route. The fare of £1,797 is valid for travel from Tuesday 1 September 2015 to Friday 30 November 2015. The fare must be booked by Sunday 31 May.

Full details of the offer are on the Air New Zealand website.

This is a very good offer. It compares favourably to premium economy fares on rival airlines on this route and is better than “flash” business class sale fares we’ve seen on this route. It is also a good chance to experience Air New Zealand’s highly regarded business class product.
Continue reading “Air New Zealand offering special companion fare on London Heathrow – Los Angeles”

Virgin Atlantic opens its new Clubhouse at Terminal 2, Los Angeles airport

Virgin Atlantic has long been known for its distinctive, if relatively few in number, Clubhouse lounges. The flagship being of course its London Heathrow Clubhouse, with other Clubhouses in San Francisco, New York, Boston and Washington.

One notable absentee has been Los Angeles, in spite of it being one of Virgin Atlantic’s most important routes after New York.

Today Virgin Atlantic has opened a new Clubhouse at Terminal 2. The lounge has been designed by Slade Architecture who also worked on the airline’s Newark and JFK clubhouses.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Los Angeles
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Los Angeles
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Los Angeles
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Los Angeles

The Los Angeles clubhouse offers views of the Hollywood Hills. The colour palette is relatively toned down compared to other Virgin lounges.

As per other Virgin Clubhouses the lounge offers complimentary drinks from the bar and a pre-flight dining menu, with the Los Angeles lounge offering dishes from Hinoki & The Bird.

Virgin Atlantic flies to Los Angeles twice daily, with an additional codeshare flight operated by Delta. It is a route with strong competition. Air New Zealand flies to Auckland via Los Angeles daily. American Airlines and British Airways also fly the route twice daily, with American Airlines offering its latest Boeing 777-300 aircraft and British Airways flying its A380 twice daily.

United Airlines to introduce complimentary beer and wine on long-haul flights from London Heathrow from 1 June 2015

In a further sign of US airlines continuing to narrow the historical gap in service levels between their European rivals, United Airlines is to provide complimentary beer and wine in economy class on long-haul flights to and from London Heathrow from 1 June 2015.

This is part of a package of service improvements announced by United Airlines. The airline will continue to charge for spirits in economy. Passengers will also have the option to purchase additional snacks in flight.

This move does (if we’re not mistaken!) put United Airlines broadly on a par with Delta and American Airlines. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic continue to offer a full bar service free of charge in economy.

Whilst in the grand scheme of things, this is a very modest change and, in truth, only a reversal of a previous cut, it’s perhaps less likely other airlines will start charging for alcoholic drinks in economy.

United Airlines flies from London Heathrow Terminal 2 to New York Newark, Chicago, Washington Dulles, Houston, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Virgin Atlantic suspends flights to Cape Town, Mumbai, Tokyo Narita and Vancouver in major network overhaul

Virgin Atlantic has today announced a major over-haul of its long-haul network, in what is arguably the single biggest chance to its network since the events of 11 September 2001.

Virgin’s year-round services from London Heathrow to Mumbai and Tokyo Narita will be suspended from 31 January 2015.

Virgin’s seasonal flights from London Heathrow to Vancouver and Cape Town will be suspended permanently from 11 October 2014 and 26 April 2015 respectively.

Continue reading “Virgin Atlantic suspends flights to Cape Town, Mumbai, Tokyo Narita and Vancouver in major network overhaul”