British Airways owner IAG SA will begin offering cut-price inter-continental flights from June using a new airline to be branded “Level” that could operate more than 30 aircraft.
The startup will initially connect Barcelona with Los Angeles and Oakland in California, the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires, and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, with tickets priced from 99 euros each way. It will later add other European bases and could serve Asia, IAG said Friday.
While Level will start out with two Airbus Group SE A330 wide-body jets operated by IAG’s Iberia unit, an order for new planes will be placed next year and the brand will become a separate operation, Willie Walsh, the group’s chief executive officer, said at a media briefing.
IAG is following Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Air France-KLM Group in adding low-cost long-haul flights as Europe’s biggest carriers respond to the emerging no-frills challenge led by Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA. The Nordic carrier has been operating discounted trans-Atlantic trips with Boeing Co. 787s since 2013, and plans to serve shorter routes with narrow-body jets from $65 per leg.
The new IAG division is being founded in Barcelona in order to tap connections provided by the group’s short-haul budget airline Vueling, which is based there. Walsh said the availability of feeder traffic is vital for the model to work, with Spanish productivity improvements also an important factor.
Level will have its own livery and offer 293 economy seats plus 21 premium-economy berths in its A330s. The cheapest tickets will allow one free cabin bag, with an extra charge for checked luggage, food and Wi-Fi connectivity.