Primera Air adds Toronto to its transatlantic network after Canadian licence award

Scandinavian carrier Primera Air has confirmed the expected expansion of its long haul operation from the UK and France with the addition of flights to Canada from its Birmingham, London Stansted and Paris CDG bases. Adding to its already announced services to Boston and New York from spring 2018, the airline will introduce links to Toronto from next summer.

The confirmation of the Toronto flights follow the award last week by the Canadian Transportation Agency of a licence for it to operate between Canada and Europe. It will offer three times weekly year round flights from each of the three European points with flights starting from Birmingham from 18-May-2018 and London Stansted from 23-Jun-2018. It will also offer a four times weekly schedule from Paris Charles De Gaulle.

All three routes will be flown using its new single-aisle Airbus A321neo aircraft in a two class configuration: full-service premium and low-fare economy, with free Wi-Fi and onboard charging points throughout. It is due to receive six aircraft in spring 2018 with two further aircraft due in late 2018.

TABLE – Primera Air has 26 aircraft on order including eight Airbus A321neos, two A321neoLRs and 16 Boeing 737MAX-9sSource: CAPA Fleet Database

“With our brand new Airbus321noes, we are opening routes previously traditionally served only by widebody aircraft. With unmatched efficiency of these new-generation aircraft, we will be able to offer unprecedented prices to our passengers,” says Andri M Ingolfsson, president and chairman, Primera Air.

While new to the UK and French markets, Primera Air is well known across Scandinavia and the Baltics being part of the Primera Travel Group that operates travel agencies and tour companies in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Estonia. Over the coming years it plans to further grow its long-haul network increasing its presence at Birmingham, London Stansted and Paris CDG, as well as opening other new bases.

The consensus of opinion is that alongside a standard economy offering, a premium cabin offering is also required to generate the necessary yield to make the low cost long haul model sustainably profitable. Primera Air plans to offer a level of service on its transatlantic flights that will make it appeal to price conscious business travellers.

“We are very proud to be offering a low-fare/high quality product and service concept, that will be perfect both for leisure and business travellers,” says Mr Ingolfsson.

The airline’s latest growth will see it become the first carrier to offer non-stop flights from London Stansted to Toronto (albeit it will face indirect competition from services at Gatwick and Heathrow airports in the UK capital), face competition from Air Transat at Birmingham (summer only) and go head-to-head with Air Canada, Air France and Air Transat (summer only) at Paris Charles De Gaulle.

An estimated 700,000 two-way passengers a year flew between London and Toronto in 2016, while the Paris – Toronto market generated flows of around 210,000 passengers during the same period, according to data from OAG. Although there is no traffic data for the London Stansted – Toronto route, the UK airport’s operator M.A.G. Group says the link is Stansted’s fifth largest unserved destination with over 280,000 passengers from the airport’s catchment area flying from other airports to Toronto in the last year.