British Airways’ parent company plans to launch new low-cost transatlantic service from Barcelona to the U.S. in 2017.
International Airlines Group — which owns British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, and the low-cost Spanish airline Vueling – is considering adding a new subsidiary in 2017 that will offer cheap fares to and from the U.S. West Coast in response to low-fare competition from Norwegian, according to The Times of London.
The newspaper said IAG’s new operation is expected to use Airbus A330s to fly from Barcelona’s El Prat Airport to San Francisco and Los Angeles beginning in June 2017. The new venture is also targeting transatlantic flights from Barcelona to Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago, Chile; and Havana, Cuba, the report said.
Tickets are not expected to go on sale until February or March 2017, and no fare information is currently available according to CAPA.
Vueling, IAG’s low-cost Spanish subsidiary that serves short-haul markets, will provide passenger feed into Barcelona for the transatlantic flights. There were no details yet on specific schedules or fares for the West Coast service. IAG suggested that it might operate the new service under one of its existing brands if it does not create a new subsidiary.
Europe’s legacy airlines have recently been stirred to action on the low-cost front as Norwegian adds more long-haul routes at extremely low base fares. Norwegian in recent months has started or announced new and increased low-fare service from major U.S. airports to London Gatwick, Paris and Barcelona, especially from the West Coast. Lufthansa is concentrating on growing its low-cost Eurowings subsidiary, adding aircraft from Airberlin and Brussels Airlines for that purpose.
Air France KLM recently revealed plans to develop a low-cost long-haul operation tentatively called Boost, based at Paris Charles de Gaulle, although few details are available. And in addition to IAG’s new Barcelona-based operation, British Airways is adding service to Oakland and Ft. Lauderdale in 2017 from London Gatwick instead of its Heathrow hub, in response to Norwegian’s increasing Gatwick service. BA is said to be planning eventually to use higher-capacity 777s with 332 seats instead of 280 for its long-haul Gatwick operations, in order to make them cost-competitive with Norwegian.