LEVEL Europe, one of the sister airlines of British Airways, has just filed for insolvency.
This makes it IAG’s first casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a statement on its website:
LEVEL Europe will enter insolvency on June 18, 2020.
All flights have been grounded as of March 2020 and the Austrian business has ceased trading with immediate effect.
Please note that LEVEL Europe is unfortunately not able to arrange alternative flights for passengers. At this time we kindly request you do not contact our Call Centres unless your travel is within the next 48 hours, as we are experiencing high levels of call volume at this time.
If you have a booking sold by a marketing carrier or travel agent for LEVEL Europe flight, please contact that marketing carrier or travel agent to confirm if there is any impact to your travel plans.
An administrator will be appointed to answer further questions.
In the event that you were an employee of the Company and you require any further information or assistance in relation to the Administration, an administrator will be appointed. Contact information for the administrator will be posted on this page on or before Wednesday June 24, 2020.
In the event that you were a supplier or creditor of the Company and you require further details in relation to the Administration, an administrator will be appointed. Contact information for the administrator will be posted on this page on or before Wednesday June 24, 2020.
This isn’t quite as significant as you might think. The LEVEL brand is used by several different operating carriers within IAG, including Iberia, OpenSkies and LEVEL Europe.
LEVEL Europe was the short haul operation based in Vienna and legally owned by Vueling using a license in the name on ANISEC. It operated a relatively small fleet of six A320 and A321 aircraft out of Vienna and Amsterdam to destinations such as Rome, London, Lisbon and Barcelona.
The airline has been grounded since March. Around 240 staff are believed to be affected, of which 200 are based in Vienna and 40 in Amsterdam.
The LEVEL long haul airline operation is unaffected, at least for now, since it is operated under separate Air Operating Certificates and is legally part of of Iberia and OpenSkies.
The unwillingness of IAG to support LEVEL Europe is interesting, and shows that the group is willing to make tough decisions about the future size and shape of the wider group.
It may have been partly driven by a proposed new law, drafted as part of the bailout of Austrian Airlines, imposing a minimum air fare of €40 for flights departing from Austria. Whilst dressed up as an environmental measure, the real impact will be to drive budget carriers out of the market and reduce competition for Austrian.