Primera Air made a splash last year with plans to launch transatlantic services from London Stansted and Birmingham to the United States of America and Canada.
The airline has been doing a major push recently in the Birmingham area (with Primera Air sponsoring a Free Radio promotion, and blitzing the city with adverts).
But is there value for money here… or is it a case of more fees to be tacked on?
Let’s take a look.
As an example, I popped in the month of May (launch month) to see what I got – and there are fares to be had for £149 one-way across the pond.
Now let’s pick on the 22nd May for entertainment purposes. And we can see – unsurprisingly – there’s one heck of a load of unbundling going on.
So five different fare options going on
- Light: 10kg of hand luggage.
- Comfort: 10kg hand luggage, 1 checked bag, meal and seating
- Flex: As above, with name changes and refundable element
- Premium: 10kg hand luggage, 1 checked bag, meal and seating
- Premium Flex: As above, with name changes and refundable element
Selecting a light fare also brings up a fun pop-up:
Hmm. Let’s build an a couple of itineraries based on the 25th May Departure/27th May return:
On light fares, you’re looking at £350. On a comfort fare – £449 (including a naughty £9 to use a credit card)
So what’s the competition got to say for itself? I did what most people would do – fire up Kayak and see who offers what on a discount fare
From Birmingham? For £20 more, how would like your luggage thrown in… as well as food? (if the times are sub-optimal).
From Manchester £350 on a legacy carrier (with a luggage allowance and food)? Entirely possible
From Heathrow? How about a little bit cheaper starting at £336
Primera Air will have to compete both on price, offering and schedule.
At the moment, the Birmingham to Newark pair has been vacated (with United Airlines abandoning the route, and American Airlines running into the sunset a long time ago), leaving an embarrassing gap for the UK’s seventh biggest airport by traffic.
The return of a daily route between Birmingham and Newark will be welcome to the airport – even if the timings will make it more of a leisure service rather than a business service.
Primera will also launch routes other routes from Birmingham and Stansted:
- Birmingham to Newark (New York), Toronto (Pearson) and Boston
- London Stansted to Newark (New York), Toronto (Pearson) and Boston
Which could be a problem in the longer term. In addition, you’ll need to construct your own connections – which will mean an overnight in Newark at best, and long connections at worse.
Price as well is going to be a bug-bear. Whilst the costs of getting to another airport and parking might have to be factored in, other airlines are offering varying prices around the £350 price point on the same dates (+/- £20), which bundle in a lot of the features
I welcome the new service by Primera Air – I’m hoping in some ways it will convince United Airlines or American Airlines to return to the airport and note there is still a customer base it can use.
But if you do intend to travel with them, run the dates through a search engine – you may find there is better value to be had.
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