Primera Air’s Transatlantic LCC efforts sank the company. Small but stable in delivering European charter services, the carrier sought something more. It wanted the grandeur of being a transatlantic operator. It ordered a handful of new A321neo aircraft and then a handful of 737 MAX.
Planes were late. Too many seats flew empty. And, ultimately, the carrier ran out of funds. One of the carrier’s A321neo aircraft appears to have been impounded at Stansted Airport this afternoon. The company will formally file the bankruptcy documents this evening. All operations will cease at midnight. Primera is gone.
— Aviation News ✈️ (@planesmad2016) October 1, 2018
After announcing the TATL services in Summer 2017 the routes launched in Summer 2018. They ran into trouble almost immediately. Owing to engine issues the A321neo deliveries were delayed. Primera was forced to trim some routes from the schedule and lease aircraft to operate others. Those additional costs weighed heavily on the company. Add in rising fuel prices and it seems Primera never stood a chance.
Those long odds did not stop the company from announcing more new routes for its low cost long haul operations. With the new 737 MAX aircraft due this winter Primera was poised to connect Brussels, Frankfurt and Berlin to North America. Other bases would follow. Now none will fly.
In the end Primera had little to separate it from the competition. Arriving into Stansted from the USA was quick and easy owing to small crowds and easy rail and bus links into London. But the carrier offered no onward connections and unreliable operations with minimal recoverability when things turned pear-shaped. Fuel stops on westbound trips happened just enough to muck up operations. The company also had unexpected severe corrosion on one of its aircraft, a problem that came with a 10 million euro bill.
2018 began with a fantastic start of our low-cost long-haul project with a brand-new Airbus 321neo fleet, however, due to severe delays of aircraft deliveries this beginning ended up being rocky and incredibly problematic: operational issues, cancellations of number of flights, loss of revenue are just a few to mention. In addition, to fulfill our obligations in front of passengers, Primera Air leased in aircraft and beared additional costs of over 20 million euro. – Excerpt of company statement announcing the cessation of services
In the statement Primera made it clear that the choice to halt operations now is partially driven by a desire to not further increase exposure to lessors and passengers by taking delivery of the new aircraft and selling seats for next summer.