Primera Air have just informed all their customers booked on autumn and winter flights from Birmingham to Palma de Mallorca that their flights have been cancelled. The reason is commercial. In a tightly packed low cost flight market, only the strongest can survive. A mixture of reasons mean Primera didn’t make it. And as yet it is uncertain if the LLC will try its luck again in 2019.
Who are Primera Air?
The low cost Latvian-based carrier came to life in 2003 and entered the UK market in April 2018. Since their grand unveiling they’ve been touting cheap fares from Stansted and Birmingham airports. In the UK, we’re pretty accustomed to low cost flights, but still with offerings to North American cities like New York and Washington, it was enough to gain newspaper column inches. The carrier has 10 aircraft, is based in Riga and its main competitor in Norwegian.
Primera took a leaf out of Norwegian’s playbook with a strategy of aggressive growth over the last year. Their offer of low-cost, long-haul services from Europe to North America was seen a precursor to something more. If anything had happened to Norwegian, Primera would have been best placed to pick up the slack on these desirable routes.
What about Birmingham to Palma?
However, their real value to most of the fare-paying public was the Birmingham to Palma route. Birmingham already has suppliers on this route. The big names are Ryanair, Jet2 and Lufthansa. But all-inclusive packages on charter flights with Thomas Cook and TUI are also on offer. That said Primera threw their hat into the ring with a lot of very attractive special offers.
Cancellations on Primera Air Birmingham
But as we know, things haven’t gone to plan. Customers recently received emails from the airline concerning their flights post the 3rd of September 2018. After this date, routes from Birmingham to Palma de Mallorca have been suspended. Their other routes to Reykjavik and Malaga will end on 29th of October 2018.
Why have Primera Air Birmingham failed?
Competition at Birmingham is steep. The Midlands airport is hugely popular for summer holiday destinations but doesn’t tend to draw the same volume of business flights as Heathrow and Gatwick. In addition, Primera’s small fleet might have just been to small to show any sense of presence in Birmingham. Certainly their 70% capacity loadings couldn’t sustain their ambitious growth.
That said, the airline is still planning to grow. CCO Anastasija Visnakova recently announced plans at Primera to increase the fleet to 40 units by 2021. This growth is expected to happen at existing strong bases such as Stansted, Copenhagen, Paris CDG and Stockholm–Arlanda.
But when it comes to flight cancellations, the British customers have the memory of Elephants. Once their summer holiday has been ruined by a short notice cancellation, you might as well move on. With thousands of Midlands based holidaymakers now facing more expensive tickets on other carriers, Primera may have shot themselves in the foot. With Jet2 and co. ready to jump into the breach, the low cost Latvian provider may have to look elsewhere for future opportunities.