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Another IAG airline bites the dust – LEVEL France closing

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According to El Pais in Spain, IAG – the parent company of British Airways – has decided to close down LEVEL France, its long-haul low cost airline.

This follows LEVEL Europe, the short-haul low cost airline based in Vienna, which entered insolvency last month.  LEVEL Europe 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.  Around 240 staff were made redundant.

Unlike LEVEL Europe, which slipped into administration, it appears that IAG is pre-emptively winding down LEVEL France. According to El Pais, IAG management has made the decision to close the loss-making Paris base in the coming weeks. A consultation with the unions is due to begin on 15th July.

LEVEL France closing

What was LEVEL France?

LEVEL France was a long-haul operation based out of Paris Orly, using three A330-200 aircraft.

It flew to:

  • Montreal
  • Guadeloupe
  • Martinique
  • New York Newark

There was no Business Class.  The aircraft operated with only Premium Economy and Economy seating.  It was a fairly basic business model:

you paid for all food and drink

you paid for all checked luggage

you paid for seat selection

you paid for a blanket, pillow and / or amenity kit

you paid for internet

you paid for IFE

LEVEL France closing

LEVEL France was, legally, the old British Airways OpenSkies operation in new clothes.

Operating from Paris Orly, OpenSkies used to operate two flights per day to New York Newark and New York JFK.  OpenSkies services were bookable with Avios and, if you paid cash, you earned Avios and British Airways tier points.  It had a weirdly named three class service – Biz Bed, Prem Plus and Eco.

When British Airways decided to pull the plug on OpenSkies, IAG decided to use its operating licence to ‘front’ LEVEL France.

LEVEL France closing

What’s left for LEVEL?

With the Vienna-based short haul operation and the Paris-based long haul operation now gone, all that remains is the original LEVEL Barcelona operation.

This was operating on long haul routes to Buenos Aires, San Francisco and Boston. El Pais suggests that this will continue.

The Barcelona operation worked well because it wasn’t facing much direct competition and had a large catchment area.  The Paris long haul market was a totally different matter.  That said, it would be odd if IAG was prepared to keep LEVEL going as a pure three route long haul operation out of Spain.

Comments (4)

  • marcw says:

    IMHO, LEVEL Spain will fold its wings as well. The reason they haven’t done it yet, is the special COVID-19 furlough benefit. Once that expires, they will close down and shelf it. Not permanently. Whenever, maybe in 2022 or 2023 long haul picks up again, IAG can always relaunch their LEVEL operations within 2-3 months.
    Apparently, some LEVEL routes from Barcelona were doing well, Buenos Aires and Boston. They were also flying to New York JFK and San Francisco.

  • Alex says:

    Keeping the brand for such a small operation is counter-productive, but IAG have enough brands where they could fold this. Vueling Long-Haul, Air Europa etc.

    • Rhys says:

      They don’t have Air Europa yet!

      • Yawn says:

        Just wondering what happens with some of the other flights operated under the Level brand. I saw LEVEL took over the old Vueling from Amsterdam to Rome. Can’t say I tried that flight.It arrived at Fiumicino near midnight, and it is a horrible airport to get out of in the dead of night, but would feel bad for the staff if they lost their jobs due to a branding issue.