Primera To Launch Transatlantic Max 9 Flights from Brussels

 - August 22, 2018, 11:51 AM

European low-cost airline Primera Air has committed to extending its venture into the transatlantic low-cost market with services from Brussels to Newark International, Washington Dulles, and Boston Logan airports using new Boeing 737 Max 9s. 

Brussels airport already hosts several short-haul low-cost carriers including Ryanair, which maintains a base there, easyJet, Air Arabia Maroc, and Iceland’s Wow Air, but Primera Air will become the gateway’s first low-cost carrier (LCC) offering direct long-haul flights. Primera Air will base two 737 Max 9s in Brussels to support its new transatlantic services, the airport said Wednesday.

“Our mission is to make expensive transatlantic travel history and we are glad to bring low-fare, long-haul flights to Brussels,” noted Primera chief commercial officer Anastasija Visnakova. “With the right equipment and our product, we can offer the lowest fares available in the market for both economy and full-service premium.” 

The company in July last year revealed plans to diversify its traditional short-haul charter flying with scheduled direct long-haul low-fare services and “to make a quick and firm move to become an indispensable name in the transatlantic flight market.” Plans called to initially link London Stansted, Birmingham, and Paris Charles de Gaulle airports to Newark, Boston, and Toronto with new Airbus A321neos from April 2018. Its foray into the low-fare transatlantic market, however, did not happen without hiccups, mainly owing to the later than scheduled arrival of its CFM International Leap-1A-powered neos. The circumstance forced it to wet-lease a Boeing 757 from National Airlines to launch its Stansted-Newark service and charter a Boeing 767 for its new daily service connecting Charles de Gaulle with Newark. Primera also blamed the suspension of transatlantic flights from the UK’s Birmingham Airport on the "ongoing late delivery of long-haul A321neo aircraft from Airbus," although it later also dropped plans for all new short-haul services from the airport reportedly due to low demand.

According to its website, Primera Air currently operates five A3210neos for its transatlantic network in addition to its European fleet consisting of two 148-seat 737-700s and eight 189-seat 737-800s. It has on order a further three neos, including two long-range A321LR variants leased from AerCap. The LCC’s A321neos carry 16 premium and 182 economy seats.

Plans call for deliveries of the airline's 737 Max 9s to start next year. Primera Air and Boeing announced a commitment for twenty 737 Max 9ERs in May 2017, including an order for eight units, purchase rights for four additional examples, and a lease agreement for eight more airplanes from Air Lease. 

The new daily service from Brussels to Newark will start May 9, the four-times-weekly round trip to Boston will commence June 2, and the three-times-weekly service to Washington Dulles on June 3. Primera Air will also launch a twice-weekly service from Charles de Gaulle to Montreal on October 28. Schedules call for it to increase frequency of its Stansted-Toronto service from three to five a week on Friday, while the London Stansted-Washington Dulles route—set to operate five times a week—launches Wednesday.

Based in Denmark and Latvia with two separate AOCs, Primera Air operates as part of the Primera Travel Group, which runs travel agencies and tour operating companies in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland, and Estonia. The airline carried just over 1 million passengers last year.