International Airlines Group, the owner of British Airways, is set to become the latest company to offer low-cost long-haul flights after it announced plans for a new airline offering cheap transatlantic services, initially from Barcelona.
Fares on Level, as the new IAG carrier will be called, will start from €99 or US$149.
The airline will launch this June, offering flights initially to and from Los Angeles, Oakland near San Francisco, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and Buenos Aires.
IAG’s move comes after Norwegian, a pioneer in long-haul, low-cost aviation, announced plans in January for services from this year between smaller European airports such as Edinburgh and Cork and second tier US east coast airports including Providence, Rhode Island.
Fares on the new flights, using Boeing’s new 737 Max passenger jet, will start from £69 one way.
Norwegian has been operating on busier transatlantic routes, such as London to New York, since 2014 with Boeing 787s.
IAG said Level would initially use two Airbus A330 aircraft fitted with 293 economy and 21 premium economy seats.
While the jets will be painted in Level’s own livery, they will use crews from Iberia, the Spanish flag carrier that is IAG’s second-largest airline by revenue.
Willie Walsh, IAG’s chief executive, said the initial operations from Barcelona were “just the start”.
“We’re really excited about the opportunities for expansion and we plan to bring Level to other European destinations,” he said.
Barcelona is the home base of Vueling, IAG’s short-haul, low-cost airline. Passengers flying with Level will be able to connect with Vueling short-haul flights in Barcelona.
IAG’s decision to launch Level comes as EU airlines face intense competition both on European short-haul and transatlantic long-haul markets.
Lower oil prices have encouraged airlines to introduce new flights, pushing down air fares.
Airlines are also renewing their fleets with more fuel-efficient aircraft.
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