3/17/2017: IAG Launches Long-Haul Airline, LEVEL

3/17/2017: IAG Launches Long-Haul Airline, LEVEL

DALLAS – Today in Aviation, the International Airlines Group (IAG) launched its newest airline, Madrid, Spain-based LEVEL (IB), in 2017.

LEVEL was set up in response to the growing number of low-cost long-haul carriers emerging at the time.

IAG Chief Executive Willie Walsh said at the time, “LEVEL will become IAG’s fifth main airline brand alongside Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, and Vueling. It will complement our existing airline portfolio and further diversify our current customer base.”

Airbus A330-200 (EC-MOY). Photo: LEVEL.

Barcelona Base

Barcelona (BCN) was chosen as the airline base. This allowed short-haul passengers from fellow IAG airline Vueling (VY) to connect to Level’s long-haul flights.

Flights from BCN to Los Angeles, Oakland, Buenos Aires, and Punta Cana were put on sale and immediately exceeded expectations, selling 52,000 in two days.

The inaugural flight departed from BCN bound for LAX on June 1, 2017. It had 314 passengers on board. Level initially used a pair of Airbus A330-200s sourced from fellow IAG airline Iberia (IB). It has now grown to operate seven of the type. The jets are operated by Iberia (IB) cockpit and cabin crew.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Level stopped operating from BNC.

Level Airbus A321 (OE-LCR). Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways.

Expansion Opportunities

The airline looked at spreading its wings and operating from various other European airports from the outset. Walsh said, “We’re really excited about the opportunities for expansion.”

Level studied both Rome (FCO) and Paris (ORY) but eventually chose the latter. Flights from ORY to Montreal (YUL) and Pointe-à-Pitre (PTP) began in July 2018.

Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the airline hard. Operations from ORY (Level France) were terminated and have never resumed. The airline’s foray into short-haul European flights (Level Europe) from bases in Amsterdam (AMS) and Vienna (VIE) was also canceled as of June 2020.

Featured image: LEVEL Airbus A330-202 (EC-MOU). Photo: Misael Ocasio Hernandez/Airways

European Deputy Editor
Writer and aviation fanatic, Lee is a plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK-based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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