In June, Primera Air announced its deal to lease two A321LRs from AerCap. The airline is going to be the first operator of this aircaft. It will also take delivery of eight A321neo in 2018.
Today the other shoe dropped. The airline plans to fly across the Atlantic from London Stansted to New York (EWR) and then Boston. In addition to Stansted, the airline is also opening bases at Paris (CDG) and Birmingham (BHX). These will also be used for service to the US.
Although the airline has MAX9s on order, and these will also be used for these markets, it is the imminent arrival of the A321neo and LR that enable to these new services to start. The emergence of LCCs in the market will impact the lowest fare categories. But while offering LCC-type pricing, Primera offers WiFi, in-seat power and even a “full service premium” cabin.
The new entrants like Primera, WOW and Norwegian have a small footprint for now. They should not be a threat to the current airlines. But the writing is on the wall. The airline offerings of today will have to adapt to meet the emerging threat. Airlines, especially the old school network variety, don’t like change they don’t control. This is especially the case among the oligopoly protected US majors. Rather than meet the competition from the ME3 head on, they resorted to fudged claims about open skies issues and asked for government protection. Or try to hobble new entrants like they did for ages to stop Norwegian.
Consumers, especially US-based ones, should be cheering the arrival of new airlines. Disruption will keep the airline industry vital. The only losers will be the lazy and those unable/unwilling to adapt.