Picture from Catalan News.

MIAMI — IAG’s low-cost-carrier (LCC) carrier LEVEL has announced that it will open up a new base in Paris-Orly (ORY), from where two Airbus A330-200 aircraft will fly to New York (EWR), Guadeloupe, Montreal (Subject to governmental approval), and Martinique, starting from July 2018.

LEVEL’s A330s are fitted with 293 economy and 21 premium economy seats.

Flights to Montreal will operate on a three times per week basis starting July 2, Guadeloupe four times per week on July 3, Martinique three times per week on September 3, and New York on September 4. According to LEVEL, the ORY-EWR route will take over the current OpenSkies service.

Willie Walsh, IAG’s chief executive, said that “LEVEL’s Barcelona operation has been an incredible success.”

Walsh also revealed that LEVEL would be profitable this year.

“Barcelona was always the first step, and today we’re delighted to launch flights from our second European city with four exciting new routes from Paris,” he said.

IAG’s CEO also added that because ORY is a hub for the group’s other LCC carrier, Vueling, flyers that fly through there can connect with LEVEL onwards to the new long-haul destinations that they intend on serving.

More Routes Coming Up Shortly

On top of these routes, LEVEL will be adding another destination to their Barcelona base: new flights to Boston will begin in March 2018.

According to the airline, LEVEL will have its third Airbus A330-200 by the time the Boston route opens.

From Barcelona, LEVEL currently flies to Buenos Aires, San Francisco (Oakland), and Punta Cana. Additional summer flights to Los Angeles and the new service to Boston rounds up a strong list of destinations for the young LCC.

Consequently, LEVEL will only have the one aircraft based in Barcelona, which will operate the five routes until more aircraft are added to their fleet.

It is likely that the LEVEL will receive more aircraft towards the second half of 2018, taking advantage of IAG’s large portfolio of aircraft that will either be changed or replaced with newer entrants.

Fast Alignment, Norwegian Competition?

Seeing LEVEL set base at Paris-Orly is a smart choice. Norwegian is set to launch a significant series of long-haul routes from Paris-Charles De Gaulle (CDG) in the first half of 2018.

With LEVEL adding these new routes from ORY nearly the same time as Norwegian from CDG, the French LCC market is on the verge of entering into an imminent price war between all participants.

Interestingly, Norwegian is also starting four new routes, but three of them are to different destinations.

Even though both carriers will fly to New York, the differentiating point will be that LEVEL will fly out of the less-congested ORY and Norwegian from CDG.

On the other routes to be operated by LEVEL from ORY, there is no LCC competition.

However, there would be some competition in Barcelona, as Oakland and Los Angeles are both served by Norwegian as well.

LEVEL’s winning point is the fact that it has a strong Vueling operation in Barcelona. If IAG can model the same connectivity ease at ORY and Barcelona, then they could be in considerable advantage over its competitors.

In essence, it can be seen that with the likes of Norwegian and LEVEL, it is the sense of which carrier will have the better start of expansion from Paris collectively.

What about Joon?

Adding to the already heated LCC market in France enters JOON.

With Norwegian and LEVEL grabbing some substantial market share out of both ORY and CDG, the entry of Air France-KLM’s (AF-KL) JOON adds an additional competitor with a high capacity of connecting passengers through its massive operation at CDG.

The AF-KL family has been trying for a while to compete with other ULCC carriers. The newly implemented JOON is to launch in December with ten aircraft.

In terms of JOON’s long-haul destinations, they may not be able to compete as much with LEVEL and Norwegian. May 2018 sees the carrier operating to the Seychelles and Brazil, which is nowhere near the sort of destinations that Norwegian and LEVEL will be flying to.

However, on a more cynical note, it could be seen that JOON does not actively want to compete with the mainstream ULCC carriers.

Perhaps they are capitalizing on what Norwegian and LEVEL are not focusing on. Seychelles and Brazil competitors from France would be Air Seychelles and LATAM. They are the only mainstream carriers operating flights to the two countries.

If Joon is focusing on those markets that aren’t in much attention to the likes of Norwegian and LEVEL, then they could kick-start the carrier and expand their market to two different points and monopolize their market share. They could also expand into other areas of South America and Asia, placing their focus far away from the competition. Both markets are popular enough to give AF-KL the success they need.

On the domestic front, however, JOON may struggle because of the already strong presence of Ryanair and easyJet taking majorities in European destinations through the base acquisitions that they have placed themselves.

If AF-KL can operate the ULCC, then they could have a chance to place some disruption on the market. By offering the low-costs through JOON, then they could achieve a victory in a fight they have been fighting for many years.

It will be a fiery start come the Summer of 2018. It will be interesting to see who competes well, who fails and who comes out best in it. Time will tell. It is most definitely a market to look out for.