I’m sure you’re all aware that Level has been launched by International Airline Group to the promise of €99 launch fares.
LEVEL A330-200 in flight – Image, Level/IAG
It seems Level has done well with its launch route with a reported 52,000 tickets sold in a few days.
Flight numbers have been confirmed – all coded to operate with Iberia flight codes. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Let’s look at the routes and frequencies first:
Barcelona – Los Angeles – operates twice weekly
IB2623 DEPART BCN 15:40 ARRIVE LAX 1955 Thursdays and Sundays Only IB2624 DEPART LAX 21:40 ARRIVE BCN 1825+1 Thursdays and Sundays Only Commences 1st June 2017
Barcelona – Oakland (for the Bay area) – three times weekly
IB2621 DEPART BCN 12:50 ARRIVE OAK 16:50 Tuesdays IB2621 DEPART BCN 12:00 ARRIVE OAK 16:00 Fridays IB2621 DEPART BCN 14:05 ARRIVE OAK 18:05 Sundays IB2622 DEPART OAK 18:35 ARRIVE BCN 15:25+1 Tuesdays IB2622 DEPART OAK 17:45 ARRIVE BCN 14:35+1 Fridays IB2622 DEPART OAK 19:50 ARRIVE BCN 16:40+1 Sundays Commences 2nd June 2017
Barcelona – Punta Cana – twice weekly
IB2611 DEPART BCN 17:00 ARRIVE PUJ 20:30 Wednesdays IB2611 DEPART BCN 16:20 ARRIVE PUJ 19:50 Saturdays IB2612 DEPART PUJ 22:15 ARRIVE BCN 1255+1 Wednesdays IB2612 DEPART PUJ 21:40 ARRIVE BCN 1220+1 Saturdays Commences 10th June 2017
Barcelona – Buenos Aires Ezeiza – three times weekly
IB2601 DEPART BCN 01:30 ARRIVE EZE 10:15 Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays IB2602 DEPART EZE 12:00 ARRIVE BCN 05:45+1 Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays Commences 17th June 2017 Data: RoutesOnline
Note: Routes to Punta Cana and Buenos Aires Ezeiza are subject to governmental approval.
There are some elephants in the room with Level however (even though they’ve managed to shift over 52,000 tickets). Let’s examine.
Firstly is LEVEL a true Low-Cost Carrier? I’m going to answer that with a single word… then explain my thoughts. no – it isn’t.
The issue here with Level is that it is – for all intents and purposes – a sub-brand of Iberia as it is using
- An Iberia plane (diverted from an Iberia order)
- Iberia pilots
- Iberia cabin crew.
In these respects, Level isn’t a LCC, even though its quacking like one – it will have to deal with the traditional high costs of staffing and pension.
Why does that matter? LCC’s by nature are cost lean, without the legacy issues. Already, it seems LEVEL is burdened with some.
Secondly – fleet size – or lack of it.
Two planes to operate a schedule like this is… optimistic to blunt. We all know what happened to Norwegian when they tried to operate a service with a few 787s… that went wrong – massive delays, cancellations and hired in planes.
And sadly, A330s do go wrong – I’ve flown one which had an issue with the engine. Near enough a five-hour delay at Manchester Airport.
Whilst they could turn to mother Iberia for a loan plane, that would impact the operation’s of the airline if it happened at a bad time.
Thirdly – are we approaching a saturation point?
Perhaps the biggest elephant is the glut of capacity that is now appearing over the Atlantic. We are having capacity dumps from the legacy airlines putting on larger planes across the Atlantic as well as Norwegian and LEVEL… and even Emirates joining in the party. As a result, there are a lot of planes with seats to be filled.
Now, I love a half empty plane as well as the next person (three seats to yourself? Instant air-bed without the fancy business class service). If you’re an airline accountant though, that’s pretty much your worst nightmare – empty seats on planes, without people paying to be on them.
And with the current climate, I’m honestly not sure that’s sustainable. Certainly, new planes and new equipment can unlock routes none of us thought of (take for example Norwegians routes). And we can add routes to new destinations with efficient equipment.
The challenge in the long-term is to fill those seats – and not just with €99/€149 fares.
That will remain LEVEL’s biggest challenge…
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