The Level airline will be based in Barcelona

Level, based in Barcelona, aims to counter the transatlantic threat from low-cost airline Norwegian

The transatlantic air fares war of summer 2017 has taken another twist in the shape of a new sister airline for British Airways, which takes to the skies in June.

“Level” is the chosen name for the new budget long-haul airline from BA’s parent company, IAG. It will be based in Barcelona, which is also the hub for Vueling, IAG’s Spanish no-frills airline.

The new carrier will initially have two new Airbus A330 aircraft branded in its own livery and fitted with 293 economy and 21 premium economy seats. But Level will not have any pilots or cabin crew of its own. Instead, staff from its sister carrier, Iberia, will operate the planes.

Willie Walsh, the chief executive of IAG, said: “Level will become IAG's fifth main airline brand alongside Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling. It will complement our existing airline portfolio and further diversify our current customer base.

“Barcelona is Vueling's home base and this will allow customers to connect from Vueling's extensive European network onto Level’s long-haul flights.”

Passengers will have to pay extra for checked luggage, meals and inflight internet access. They will also qualify for Avios, IAG’s frequent-flyer currency. 

The move emulates what Lufthansa is doing with its Eurowings subsidiary and Qantas has done with its JetStar brand: using a lower-cost offshoot to serve less-profitable routes.

The airline’s stated mission is: “We believe the world’s a better place when we all get out and experience. We’re here to make getting there easy and affordable.” But the unstated mission is to take on Norwegian, the low-cost airline that is building a big transatlantic network from Spain and the UK. Two of the four routes, to Los Angeles and Oakland (the secondary airport for San Francisco) go head-to-head with Norwegian.

In addition Level will offer flights to Buenos Aires – currently served by Aerolineas Argentinas – and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. 

British Airways has already responded to Norwegian’s links from Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale in Florida and Oakland by launching its own services on the routes. In June, Norwegian will begin aggressive expansion from Edinburgh and Belfast to secondary airports in the north-east US. 

Mr Walsh said Level would expand to fly from other European locations. 

Flights on Level are now on sale at flylevel.com.

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