Primera: Transatlantic Game Changers?

Gone are the days where your only options to fly from the United Kingdom to the United States were dominated by the likes of British Airways and American Airlines.  Despite the fantastic service and benefits that these airlines offer throughout your flight, not everyone wants to or can afford to pay the price this comes at. The good news is they no longer have to. Why? The low cost carriers are coming…

Last week we brought you our take on WOW Air’s chances of establishing themselves as the UK’s number one low cost carrier across the Atlantic. If you haven’t already read it, you need to stop what you’re doing and click here to do so!  Now that’s sorted, this week it’s the turn of Scandinavian based Primera Air, let’s see what they’ve got to offer…

OY-PSA of Primera which has been operating for Jet2.com over Summer 2017

PRIMERA AIR.

UK DEPARTURES FROM: BIRMINGHAM (BHX) & LONDON (STN).
CONNECTING VIA: NONE, ALL FLIGHTS DIRECT!
FLYING TO: NEW YORK (EWR), BOSTON (BOS) & TORONTO (YYZ).

 

I’m sure the vast majority of you reading  this will be clueless as to who Primera are, some may have not even heard of them until this very moment. With a fleet of only 9 Boeing aircraft and around 300 employees on the payroll, you’d be forgiven for not knowing about them.  Primera primarily operate charter flights for travel companies, mainly across Europe and Asia. With the opening of bases in Birmingham, London Stansted and Paris, it’s clear that the owners are looking to expand and make the airline a house hold name in the market.

Tickets across all three routes start from under £200 on the carrier’s Light package. Travelers will find themselves with 10kgs cabin baggage and a randomly assigned seat in the economy cabin. Seating in this cabin offers a guaranteed 30″ of legroom.

The Comfort package offers 10kgs cabin baggage and 23kgs checked baggage. Seat selection and an in-flight meal are both complimentary to passengers travelling on this fare basis. Seating upgrades to XL seats with a legroom of 32″ legroom are charged at £34.99 per seat and exit row seats are available for £44.99 offering a whopping 49″ of legroom. (Well worth the price in my opinion).

For anyone who may have to alter their travel plans at the last minute, Primera offer a Flex package across both their Economy and Premium cabins. Name changes are free of charge, the tickets are fully refundable and travel dates can be amended with travelers only having to pay the difference in fare cost (If there is one). Economy passengers will find it includes all the benefits of Comfort and also find themselves being able to choose standard, extra legroom or exit row seats for free.

Seating Comparison (Credit: primerair.co.uk)

Premium seating is located in the first 4 rows of the aircraft and offer extra wide seats with a legroom of 39″. Premium cabin passengers will find themselves guaranteed a window or aisle seat as this exclusive cabin is in a 2-2 configuration. Premium meals are available to be selected at the time of booking, as well as all other meal options available to customers. Priority boarding of the aircraft is included.

 

FLYING DIRECT?

Unlike rival carrier WOW Air, Primera will be offering direct Transatlantic flights from their UK bases of London Stansted and Birmingham. These routes will be served by Airbus A321neo aircraft. Equipped with drag reducing Sharklets, industry leading fuel efficiency and an enhanced new engine option (hence neo), these aircraft are going to be some of the newest and most modern flying across the Atlantic. The airline will be taking delivery of 8 Airbus A321neo’s in 2018, as well as leasing 2 Airbus A321neo Long Range aircraft from leasing company AerCap. Primera also have an order with Boeing to take delivery of up to 20 Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft which will compliment the airlines long haul fleet.

 

WHY FLY PRIMERA?

First and foremost, the non-stop services that Primera offer from their regional UK bases are undoubtedly the primary reason that people will book with them. London Stansted already has WOW Air offering Transatlantic connections but being able to reach New York without having to transfer in Keflavik already puts Primera ahead of their Icelandic competitors. Being able to fly direct from Birmingham is a massive selling point for the airline as well. Earlier in the year, United and American Airlines pulled out of Birmingham leaving them without a direct Transatlantic route for the first time in almost 30 years. More recently, Icelandair announced they were axing the Keflavik-Birmingham route leaving passengers unable to connect to Icelandair services to the USA and Canada. In my opinion, it’s a smart move from Primera taking advantage of a significant gap in the Midlands air travel market.

The on-board experience with Primera will feature USB ports in every row of seating allowing travelers to charge their gadgets whilst enjoying their favourite movie or album. This is very important as Primera doesn’t not offer an entertainment system that passengers can use to view the latest movies or television box sets. In the place of In flight Entertainment, the airline will offer Wi-Fi across it’s fleet of Airbus A321neo aircraft, so that both business and leisure passengers can stay connected to social media or their emails, even at 38,000 feet.

Just one of the tasty meals available to enjoy on-board!

Catering on-board will feature a meal service that will either be complimentary or paid for, depending on the ticket type purchased. This will give the option of either a chicken or beef dish, or a suitable alternative for anyone with special dietary requirements. A high quality range of snacks and drinks will be available to purchase throughout the flight , all of which are described as “great items at great prices”  by the airline.

Ticket prices for most people are the major factor in deciding who to fly with. Primera offer fantastic value across their routes to the USA and Canada. Boston starts from just £149 one way when travelling on the Light package, and both New York and Toronto start from just £169 one way when travelling Light. A return trip from Birmingham to New York will cost £278 on the Light package, this can be compared to the £339.98 that Thomas Cook Airlines will charge on the same dates when travelling from Manchester to New York. The £61.98 saving could be put towards seeing a show on Broadway or admission to the Rockefeller Centre!

 

SUMMARY!

To summarize, I believe that Primera have a strong product to offer on the most modern single aisle aircraft out there. Understandably the companies low cost business model may not appeal to everyone as people come to expect IFE and meal services to be complimentary on long haul flights. However, the option to pre-purchase your tasty meal and the availability of Wi-Fi on-board will be acceptable by most as the airline is low cost after all. Being able to fly direct from two regional UK airports will be a key selling point, especially with both having no direct Transatlantic services.

Just one of Primera’s Airbus A321neo’s which will be in the skies in 2018

To put Primera Air’s chances into one sentence; I believe that they have a strong chance to crack into the market and with a few adjustments made to features such as Wi-Fi (perhaps offer an IFE system that is streamed to the users device), Primera could be here to stay.

 

Visit Primera Air’s website to book your next Transatlantic trip and to take advantage of their low cost fares to Barcelona, Malaga and Majorca!

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