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LEVEL, a low-cost subsidiary of IAG, the holding company that owns British Airways and Iberia, will begin a new direct route between Barcelona and Miami this spring.
Expansion to the US and Latin America
LEVEL’s new Barcelona-Miami route, its fourth regularly scheduled US service, will begin on March 31, 2024. This adds to LEVEL’s already-established US network, comprising New York JFK, Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
The airline’s expansion isn’t solely focused on the US. On October 28, 2023, LEVEL will broaden its operations to Buenos Aires (EZE) by offering nine weekly services from Barcelona. The airline is also increasing its flights to Santiago de Chile (SCL) to five per week during winter.
Established in June 2017, LEVEL began transatlantic services from Barcelona–El Prat Airport. While its short-haul brand, Level Europe, ceased operations on June 18, 2020, the airline has concentrated on expanding its long-haul network.
LEVEL currently operates five Airbus A330-200s and, coinciding with this network expansion, will add three additional A330-200s aircraft.
Budget airlines are back
The resurgence of low-cost carriers in the transatlantic market this past year has been pretty remarkable. Consider, for example, that the share of low-cost seats on routes between Europe and North America was about 4% in the first quarter of 2023, while just two years ago, it had fallen to zero. In 2018, the market share of low-cost seats peaked at just over 6%, driven by aggressive expansion from airlines like Norwegian and Iceland’s Wow Air. Both have since retreated from the transatlantic market—Wow ceased operations in 2019, and Norwegian withdrew to focus on its core domestic and European operations.
New entrants are now filling the vacuum left by these carriers. PLAY, an Icelandic airline, is constructing a hub-and-spoke network out of Reykjavik Keflavik, offering a one-stop connecting strategy between Europe and North America. Meanwhile, Norse Atlantic Airways is adopting a more direct route strategy, operating nonstop flights from European capitals to US cities. All this is to say that while LEVEL is using the same playbook of aggressive pricing and unbundled service offerings as its competitors, it is also throwing its hat into a relatively crowded market.
LEVEL’s US and South America expansion comes amid an increasingly competitive low-cost transatlantic market. I get excited whenever I hear about a new low-cost entrant to this space because the increased capacity generally means more price competition and lower fares on legacy carriers. We’ll see how LEVEL fares in the increasingly competitive long-haul, low-cost space.