Willie Walsh happy with response to budget carrier Level

Aer Lingus parent IAG is seeking to be competitive in cheap transatlantic market

Norwegian  will begin low-cost services from Ireland to the US in July. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Norwegian will begin low-cost services from Ireland to the US in July. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

 

Willie Walsh, chief executive of Aer Lingus parent International Airlines Group (IAG), has said the company is happy with the response to its new budget carrier Level.

IAG launched the new Barcelona-based airline in March and plans to begin flying to Los Angeles and San Francisco in the US, Buenos Aires in Argentina and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic from June.

The move is designed to combat the launch of cheap transatlantic services by airlines such as Norwegian Air International, which will begin services from Ireland to the US in July, and Wow, which offers flights from the Europe to north America via Rekjavik.

Mr Walsh said over the weekend that bookings on its site, flylevel.com, were strong, with more than 50 per cent of customers in the key 18-34-year-old age group. “So it’s an interesting demographic,” he told CNN’s Quest Means Business.

‘No choice’

Speaking to the same programme, commentator Ben Schlappig, editor of travel blog One Mile at a Time, said that it was a case of “monkey see, monkey do”.

He said the threat posed by Norwegian and Wow was such that British Airways, one of IAG’s other three airlines, had “no choice” but to follow with a low-cost carrier of its own.

He said there were also suggestions that British Airways could introduce paid-for meals on its transatlantic economy flights in the same way that Norwegian is already doing.

Shortly after Norwegian announced details of its Irish services, Aer Lingus chief executive Stephen Kavanagh indicated that the airline could introduce cheaper no-frills fares on its transatlantic flights that would exclude elements normally found in ticket prices.

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