Europe just keeps getting cheaper. British Airways/Iberia’s low-cost Level affiliate will expand transatlantic service in 2018, adding flights from Paris, but a sister company already on that route will cease operations.
Citing the “incredible success” of the Barcelona flights started earlier this year by its low-cost Level subsidiary, International Airlines Group (the parent of British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus) said it will begin Level service out of Paris Orly next summer, including two routes to North America. The carrier will also add another U.S. route to Barcelona.
Plans call for Level to base two A330-200s at Paris Orly, starting service July 2 to Montreal three times a week, and adding Newark-Orly service four times a week beginning September 4. The company said it will also begin new Boston-Barcelona flights on March 28, operating up to three times a week through the summer, starting at $149 each way.
IAG said the Newark-Paris flights will also start at $149 one-way. Level already flies to Barcelona from Oakland, and from Los Angeles in the summer. But the decision to open a base for Level at Paris Orly comes with a cost: IAG said it plans to discontinue operations of its OpenSkies airline at the end of next summer.
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OpenSkies, which calls itself a “luxury boutique” airline, flies from both Newark and New York JFK to Paris Orly, targeting business travelers with specially-configured, 100-passenger 757s that have three seating classes. The carrier started flying in 2008 as a subsidiary of British Airways, taking advantage of then-new Open Skies rules allowing European airlines to fly routes between the U.S. and Europe that didn’t require a stop in their home country.
Level’s A330s have two seating classes – economy and premium economy. The airline has five pricing levels with varying services and amenities included, ranging from the most basic fare – which provides only one cabin bag – to its Premium Flex level, which provides a seat in the front cabin, two checked bags and one cabin bag, meal service, seat selection, and the ability to change travel dates or obtain refunds.
IAG created Level in part as a response to new low-cost competition from airlines like Norwegian and Iceland’s WOW. IAG’s British Airways unit is also striking back at Norwegian by adding higher-capacity aircraft on transatlantic routes to London Gatwick from some U.S. cities served by Norwegian.
In addition to the new Paris-Newark and Paris-Montreal service, Level will also add flights from Orly to the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique starting on July and September respectively.
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Even if you don’t plan to fly Level, the move will put pricing pressure on all carriers flying between Europe and the U.S. So maybe getting to Europe will be cheaper next year than it was this year… and this year was pretty cheap!
Have you flown Level yet? Would you? Why or why not? Please leave your comments below.