Denmark’s Primera to enter transatlantic battle

Primera Air, Danish, transatlantic, low-cost, long-haul, Airbus, budget, UK, USA, Newark, A321neo, A321LR

Primera Air

TTG Media interviews vice president and chief commercial officer

Primera Air of Denmark is preparing to enter the low-cost transatlantic market from the UK next spring, following on the heels of Norwegian and Wow Air. TTG Media interviews its vice president and chief commercial officer, Anastasija Visnakova.

Primera says it will launch budget flights from London Stansted and Birmingham to New York, Boston and Toronto. It plans to fly its Airbus A321neo aircraft, which have more efficient turbines and additional fuel tanks.

Visnakova believes the timing is perfect.

“There are not really a lot of airlines doing this,” she says. “We are at the right time with the right equipment; the only direct competition we have is in the regions or flying with a stopover. […] People are getting used to the fact that transatlantic is becoming low-cost and that high fares are history.”

However, Primera Travel Group has had no presence at all in the UK and the CCO concedes there is a lot of brand-building to do. But she adds: “We’ve been in the market in Europe for 14 years – we’re not a start-up.”

Primera began as a charter airline but entered the scheduled low-cost arena three years ago. “We reached a really good financial point and decided to go into the UK market.”

Unlike Norwegian, Primera will fly to primary airports, including Newark, which Visnakova believes will give it the edge.

“We won’t go to secondary airports. We want to offer low fares, but you are going to New York and Boston. Being an unknown brand in the market, it’s really hard to make people go to an unknown airport where you have to spend $200 to get to the city.

“We have a completely different product. Would you willingly stop somewhere like Reykjavik if you could go direct for the same fare or [for a] price difference that’s not that huge?”

“Great timing”
Besides London, Primera announced its Birmingham base days after United Airlines revealed the closure of its Birmingham-New York service on October 5, leaving the two cities unconnected this winter.

“Great timing,” says Visnakova. “Bookings have exceeded expectations.”

The airline is planning for an average 87% load factor on its new flights, despite no visible advertising since sales began in July.

“How we approach the market is generally to focus on e-marketing and digital,” she explains. “We also work with the local travel trade, business travel agencies and airports.”

By the end of 2018, the carrier will have four long-range A321LRs, which will be able to reach destinations further inland in North America.

On all its transatlantic flights there will be 198 seats in three cabins, the economy pitch being only an inch tighter than British Airways or Virgin. There is no inflight entertainment system but Wi-Fi is free and there is one power point between every two seats. Economy passengers must pay for extras, including blankets, and to those in the main cabin Visnakova advises: “Bring your own water.”

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