International Airlines Group (IAG) launched its long-anticipated low-cost, long-haul carrier March 17, naming it Level.
The new airline will be based at Barcelona’s El Prat airport, the hub of IAG’s low-cost carrier (LCC) Vueling, which is expected to act as a feeder for the new long-haul operation.
Level will start operations in June 2017, with two initial US destinations of Los Angeles (2X-weekly) and San Francisco Oakland (3X-weekly), plus Buenos Aires, Argentina (3X-weekly) and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (2X-weekly). Further European cities will be added to the route map later, but an IAG spokeswoman declined to name them.
Initial equipment will consist of two new Airbus A330-200s, part of a batch of five options previously taken out with Airbus.
More aircraft will be added to the Level fleet as the route map expands, the spokeswoman said.
The two initial aircraft will be in a two-class configuration, with 21 premium economy and 293 economy seats.
Level will be orientated toward the leisure market: “We’re very much targeting people that want to fly long-haul, but haven’t been able to afford it in the past,” the spokeswoman said. The airline’s name was chosen because, “We believe this brand is about leveling the playing field so more people have the chance to fly long-haul.”
The two initial aircraft will be operated by crews from Spanish flag carrier Iberia, another of IAG’s brands. “Level will become IAG’s fifth main airline brand alongside Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling,” IAG CEO Willie Walsh said in a statement. “Barcelona is Vueling’s home base and this will allow customers to connect from Vueling’s extensive European network onto Level’s long-haul flights.”
Walsh has long been an admirer of Norwegian’s young, but rapidly expanding, low-cost long-haul operation.
Like other LCCs, Level’s fares will be unbundled, with economy-class passengers adding services at additional cost. Premium-economy passengers will have complimentary checked baggage plus a cabin bag, meals, seat selection and inflight entertainment.
All passengers will have access to what IAG describes as a wide range of onboard entertainment options, but high-speed internet connectivity will come at a price—the minimum charge will be €8.99 ($9.65).
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