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AIRLINES


first of up to 12 A321LRs next year and has already put out a request to North American airports asking for suggestions as to where to fly them. The Irish carrier has form here. It pre-


viously leased a 757 to fly into Hartford, Connecticut, which has the dubious dis- tinction of being known as the insurance capital of the world, but was until late 2016 a transatlantic destination that other carriers had studiously ignored.


“We could see that if we did not get into


low-cost transatlantic by 2018 it would probably be too late – these planes are game-changers”


Norwegian has 110 of these on order and, like Primera, plans to spread its fleet around Europe, operating them to Asia as well as to North America. So far, not so very business travel-like,


but the new aircrafts’ capabilities have not gone unnoticed by mainstream airlines. Aer Lingus, for example, will receive the


Aer Lingus will almost certainly operate


its new Airbuses in a two-class configura- tion, and the aircraft will enable it to intro- duce new destinations that were previously out of reach and commercially unviable. The carrier is one of those at the head of the queue for the new generation jets, just behind Primera.


Primera Air chief executive Hrafn Thor-


geirsson believes his airline is ahead of the curve. “It has never really been this time in aviation history before,” he says. “We could see a year and a half ago that if we did not get into low-cost transatlantic by 2018 that it would probably be too late – these planes are game-changers. We think we have a head start because it is going to be difficult for people to get these aircraft; the queue is really, really long.”


BUSINESS PITCH At first, budget carriers might not attract the real corporate road warriors, but they are having an effect on fares throughout the market. And while buyers might sniff at them, in future in some areas of the UK, there may be no other option than flying budget on new generation, narrow-body aircraft. At Birmingham, for example, the exit of American Airlines and United Airlines on the New York route in 2017 means the only direct carrier is Primera. Like Norwegian, Primera is making a pitch for business travellers in a small


What does ‘Premium’ mean on Primera Air?


Primera’s Premium cabin offers a meal, amenity kit, bottle of water, power and USB sockets as perks. The larger seats are just as firm as in economy and there are no TV screens, but there is a good amount of space due to the 2x2 layout and 49-inch pitch legroom. Onboard upgrades, minus the food, drinks and amenity kits, are £89 one-way or £149 for the full Premium package. These were initially only being offered onboard, but are being made available at check-in. Anastasija Visnakova, the airline’s chief commercial officer, says: “This cabin is a welcome surprise… We are not focusing on the corporate market, but this product is perfect for SMEs, as many are not allowed to fly in business class.” The carrier sells on the GDS under the H1 (Hanh Air Systems) code.


Primera’s 56-seat Premium cabin Left: Anastasija Visnakova of Primera Air


50 BBT July/`August 2018


BUYINGBUSINESSTRAVEL.COM


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