Level (airline brand)
|Founded||15 March 2017|
|Commenced operations||1 June 2017|
|Parent company||International Airlines Group (IAG)|
|Key people||Fernando Candela (CEO)|
Luis Gallego (CEO of IAG)
Fly LEVEL SL, trading as Level, is an airline brand under which airlines owned by the International Airlines Group (IAG) operate low-cost flights. The brand has a registered office in Madrid, Spain.
Level was marketed initially as a low-cost, long-haul carrier, and began transatlantic services from Barcelona–El Prat Airport in June 2017. In July 2018, Level expanded with long-haul services from Paris Orly Airport which took over the operation of IAG subsidiary OpenSkies, and began its first short-haul services from Vienna International Airport, operated by Level Europe.
On 18 June 2020, Level Europe entered insolvency and the brand's short-haul flights operated by the Austrian-based airline were terminated with immediate effect. On 8 July 2020, the shutdown of OpenSkies was announced and initially ended the brand's long-haul flights based at Paris Orly, however ticket sales for OpenSkies flights under the brand were later restarted. The brand's long-haul flights from Barcelona operated by Iberia were unaffected by Level Europe's and OpenSkies' complete or initial closures.
Level was established by IAG in response to increased competition in the low-cost long-haul market, including that of Norwegian Long Haul. On 15 March 2017, IAG CEO Willie Walsh announced the new brand, together with four destinations from Barcelona–El Prat Airport beginning in June 2017. These were Oakland, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires and Punta Cana. A one-year contract was in place for Iberia to operate Level flights under its IB flight code and provide the necessary personnel, which has since been extended as Level had not been issued its own air operator's certificate (AOC).
Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, stated the corporation due to take over operation of the brand sold 52,000 seats within two days of being established, and over 147,000 after little more than 1.5 months, far exceeding IAG's expectations. Rome, Paris and Milan were mentioned as possible locations for future expansion of the airline in Europe, together with additional routes out of Barcelona.
In line with the expressed intent to continue with future expansion by adding routes from other European cities, on 28 November 2017, Level announced flights from Paris Orly Airport to Montreal and Point-à-Pitre and flights from Barcelona to Boston to begin from July 2018, and flights from Paris Orly to Fort-de-France and Newark to begin from September 2018. Flights from Paris Orly were to be operated with the AOC and crew of OpenSkies, another airline owned by IAG.
After the OpenSkies brand was retired on 2 September 2018, its operations were absorbed into the Level brand. On 8 November 2018, flights from Barcelona to Santiago de Chile and New York JFK were announced to begin in March and July 2019 respectively. On 8 May 2019, a service from Paris to Las Vegas was announced to begin from 30 October 2019, which was subsequently terminated by 1 March 2020. On 1 October 2019, a service between Paris Orly and Boston was announced to begin from 31 March 2020, however reservations were later closed between the initial announcement and the planned start of service.
OpenSkies was among three airlines that applied with the French Ministry of Ecology for traffic rights to operate services between France and Brazil, following the relinquishment of airport slots and traffic rights by Aigle Azur and XL Airways France which had gone defunct during September 2019. Of the five weekly frequencies made available between France and Brazil, OpenSkies applied to operate three weekly services between Paris Orly and Rio de Janeiro under the Level brand, with the intention of eventually using all five frequencies, but was unable to provide a specific operational timeline for when it would increase service. By January 2020, none of the traffic rights were awarded to OpenSkies, with the French Ministry of Ecology instead awarding four frequencies to French Bee, and one frequency to Air France.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated impacts on aviation resulted in the grounding of Level's short-haul and long-haul fleet, and the subsequent suspension of its operations starting in March 2020. On 8 July 2020, IAG announced that OpenSkies, the operator of Level's flights based at Paris Orly, would cease operations, with employee union negotiations and further closing procedures to begin the following week. Though despite the announcement of OpenSkies' closure, ticket sales for Paris Orly-based flights operated by the airline were restarted, with operations planned to resume in October 2020, while Level's long-haul flights that were based in Barcelona and operated by Iberia resumed on 11 September 2020, with reduced capacity.
On 29 June 2018, IAG announced the launch of a new low-cost Austrian subsidiary, Anisec Luftfahrt, to operate flights from Vienna International Airport, branded as Level, starting from 17 July 2018. The new subsidiary had its own Austrian AOC and based four Airbus A321 aircraft previously used by Air Berlin and Niki in Vienna, from which it planned to serve 14 European destinations on behalf of Level by the end of August 2018. However, by December 2018 Level announced cuts to its Vienna route network, with routes being reduced in frequency or cancelled altogether, due to business figures being below expectations.
On 14 March 2019, IAG confirmed plans to open a second base at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, with seven routes already operated by Vueling transferred from 6 April 2019 to 15 August 2019. Routes once transferred were planned to be operated under the Level brand by Anisec Luftfahrt, with three Airbus A320 aircraft transferred from Vueling to Level in March 2019. On 18 June 2019, during the 2019 Paris Air Show, the International Airlines Group signed a letter of intent to order a total of 200 Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 10 aircraft to be operated across IAG's airlines, possibly including the Level brand, Vueling, and British Airways, though specific allocation amounts between operating airlines were not specified. In December 2019, Anisec Luftfahrt was renamed to Level Europe.
Level has a registered office in Madrid, Spain, using space shared with Spanish airline Iberia, which is located on the grounds of Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport. The brand has additional offices on the grounds of Josep Tarradellas Barcelona–El Prat Airport, shared with Spanish low-cost airline Vueling.
Level initially lacked a chief executive officer (CEO) following its launch in 2017, according to former International Airlines Group CEO Willie Walsh. In turn, Vincent Hodder, who had previous experience at British regional airline Flybe, became Level's first CEO on 25 July 2018. Hodder was later succeeded as CEO by Fernando Candela on 4 September 2019, who had previous experience at Spanish airlines Iberia Express and Air Nostrum.
As of September 2020[update], the airlines operating for Level serve, or have previously served the following destinations:
Starting in March 2017, long-haul flights under the brand were launched from a base at Barcelona–El Prat Airport, with the flights operated by Iberia. In July 2018, long-haul flights under the brand based at Paris Orly Airport were launched, operated by OpenSkies.
Short-haul flights were operated under the brand by Anisec Luftfahrt (later renamed to Level Europe) between July 2018 and March 2020, when operations were initially suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On 18 June 2020, Level Europe went into administration, resulting in all short-haul flights within Europe under the Level brand being terminated with immediate effect. The following table shows the status of each destination at the time Level Europe's operations were suspended in March 2020, before the airline's official ceasing of operations in June 2020.
|Airbus A330-200||4||—||21||293||314||Operated by Iberia.|
|3||Operated by OpenSkies.|
Level previously had the following aircraft operate under its brand:
|Airbus A320-200||2||2019||2020||Operated by Level Europe.|
The brand announced plans to expand from three A330-200s in 2017 to at least 15 aircraft by 2022, with the possibility of continuing to acquire Airbus A330s, or perhaps moving to Boeing 787s. The brand later stated it was to decide between the Boeing 787 or the Airbus A330-800 for its future widebody fleet plans, as production of the Airbus A330-200 was expected to end in early 2020.
In June 2018, four branded Airbus A321-200 aircraft were added to begin short-haul services before another two Airbus A320-200 aircraft were added starting from March 2019, from the three A320s originally planned to be added. The Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft were subsequently retired in June 2020 after the airline responsible for operating short-haul flights under the brand ceased operations.
Cabins and service
Premium Economy on Level's A330 aircraft features 21 reclining seats in a 2–3–2 layout, each featuring 37 inches (94 cm) of pitch and are provided with noise cancelling headphones. Seats are equipped with a 12-inch (31 cm) TV screen featuring a complimentary selection of films, TV shows, and music. Passengers are offered a three-course meal, and WiFi is available for purchase. Passengers are also given a baggage allowance of one cabin bag and two checked/hold bags.
The Economy cabin of Level's A330 aircraft features 293 seats in a 2–4–2 layout, which are equipped with a 9-inch (23 cm) TV screen. In-flight WiFi, in-flight catering, and checked/hold baggage are all available for purchase by passengers.
The Level brand does not have its own standalone frequent-flyer program, however flights operated by Iberia are eligible to earn Avios points through the airline's Iberia Plus program. Flights operated by OpenSkies or Level Europe were not eligible to earn Avios points on any program.
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- "IAG confirms Orly for LEVEL base; to scrap OpenSkies in 4Q18". ch-aviation. 29 November 2017.
- Liu, Jim (8 November 2018). "LEVEL adds new Barcelona Trans-Atlantic routes in NS19". Routesonline. UBM (UK) Ltd. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
- Liu, Jim (8 May 2019). "LEVEL adds Paris – Las Vegas service from late-Oct 2019". Routesonline. UBM (UK) Ltd.
- Liu, Jim (27 January 2020). "LEVEL closes reservation for 2 Paris Orly – US routes from March 2020". Routesonline. Informa Markets. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
- Liu, Jim (1 October 2019). "LEVEL adds Paris Orly – Boston service in S20". Routesonline. Informa Markets. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
- "Projet de decision suite a l'appel a candidatures lance le 12 octobre 2019: Services aeriens entre la France et le Bresil" [Draft decision following the call for applications launched on 12 October 2019: Air services between France and Brazil] (PDF) (in French). Ministère de la Transition écologique. 16 January 2020. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
- "IAG Launches New Austrian Subsidiary" (Press release). IAG. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
- Gruber, Jan (18 December 2018). "Wien: Anisec gibt drei Routen auf" [Anisec gives up further three routes]. Austrian Aviation Net (in German). CUBO MEDIA.
- Steuer, René (14 March 2019). "Amsterdam: Anisec startet Level-Basis am 6. April 2019" [Level confirm Amsterdam shorthaul operation from April 2019]. Austrian Aviation Net (in German). CUBO MEDIA. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
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- Gruber, Jan (21 December 2019). "Amsterdam: Anisec Luftfahrt GmbH ist jetzt Level Europe GmbH" [Anisec Luftfahrt GmbH is now Level Europe GmbH]. Austrian Aviation Net (in German). CUBO MEDIA. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
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- Casey, David (24 September 2017). "Willie Walsh: LEVEL to have 30 aircraft in five years". Routesonline. Informa Markets. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
- Ireland, Ben (25 July 2018). "Flybe's Hodder named CEO of low-cost airline LEVEL". Travel Weekly. Jacobs Media Group Limited. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
- "Low-Cost Airline Brand LEVEL Announces Plans to Shift Nonstop Barcelona Flights from Oakland to SFO This Fall" (Press release). San Francisco International Airport. 7 June 2018. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
- Liu, Jim (22 January 2019). "LEVEL/Anisec expands Austria network in S19". Routesonline. UBM (UK) Ltd.
- "IAG to open Level-branded base in Vienna". Breaking Travel News. 28 June 2018.
- "New low-cost airline, LEVEL, to feature Vienna-Larnaca flights". Cyprus Traveller. 28 June 2018. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
- Liu, Jim (24 December 2019). "LEVEL adds Calvi – Memmingen service from May 2020". Routesonline. Informa Markets. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
- Steuer, René (14 March 2019). "Amsterdam: Anisec startet Level-Basis am 6. April 2019" [Amsterdam: Anisec launches LEVEL base on 6 April 2019]. Austrian Aviation Net (in German). CUBO MEDIA. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
- Liu, Jim (25 October 2019). "LEVEL removes planned Vienna – London service resumption from late-Oct 2019". Routesonline. Informa Markets. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
- elEconomista.es. "IAG estudia Roma y París como nuevas bases para LEVEL y dotarla con cinco aviones para verano de 2018 - elEconomista.es".
- "LEVEL Flight Details and History". Planespotters.net. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
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- Casey, David (11 January 2019). "LEVEL plots aggressive expansion once the building blocks are in place". Routesonline. Informa Markets. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
- Silva, Gil Da. "LEVEL - Réservation : bagages, frais, poids et prix des valises (soute et cabine)". www.quellecompagnie.com.
Media related to LEVEL airline at Wikimedia Commons