Primera Air becomes insolvent and ceases operations immediately.

The low-cost transatlantic carrier, Primera Air became insolvent this evening and a notice on their website explains that they are ceasing operations with almost immediate effect.

The notice on their website reads:

Dear Passengers,

Airline Primera Air and IATA codes PF and 6F have been suspended as of today, October 2nd, 2018.

On behalf of Primera Air team, we would like to thank you for your loyalty. On this sad day we are saying Goodbye to all of you.

Please visit primeraair.com for further updates in next few days. Tour Operator passengers are kindly suggested to address their Tour Operators and Agents for further information and actions.

Kindly understand that the usual options for contacts (via email or phone) can not be offered any longer.

Sincerely yours.

Primera Air team

Primera were a Danish carrier, who primarily ran charter operations from the Nordics to summer sun destinations, before more recently branching out into low-cost trans-Atlantic travel.

Their model was to fly from airports like Stansted and Birmingham to places like New York and Washington D.C.  They recently announced that they intended to expand to Paris and Amsterdam as well.

I looked at their launch a number of months ago in this article.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority has the following advice to passengers:

Primera Air, a Danish scheduled air carrier which operated services from various points in the United Kingdom, has announced it will cease operations.

Primera Air is not covered by the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s ATOL Protection scheme which only covers passengers booked on a package holiday.

Ticket refunds

Passengers wishing to obtain a refund for unused tickets will need to contact the company directly. Passengers who booked directly with the company via either a credit, charge or debit card may alternatively be able to make a claim against their card provider. Some card providers will ask for a negative response letter confirming the position* Passengers may also be able to make a claim against their travel insurer. (*This letter will be published shortly)

Passengers who have flown

Passengers who have travelled will need to make their own arrangements to return home. They should contact their travel insurer or travel agent for assistance.

Direct booking with an airline

Airlines are not included within the ATOL Scheme, so if you booked direct with an airline that has ceased trading you will not be covered. If you paid directly to the airline by credit card you might be protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. You should check with your card issuer for further advice. You may have similar cover if you paid by Visa debit card. Check with your bank. 

Booked through an Airline Ticket Agent

If you booked your ticket through an airline ticket agent you should speak to the agent in the first instance; they may have provided travel insurance that includes Scheduled Airline Failure cover, so check with your agent.

Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (SAFI) 

Some airlines and airline ticket agents will offer customers either a specific Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (SAFI) policy or include similar protection within a broader travel insurance product. The type of protection provided may vary depending on the type of policy taken out. A policy may simply cover the cost of the original tickets purchased or any unused portion, or the additional cost of purchasing new flights, such as new tickets for travel back to the UK.

Booked with an ATOL holder

If you have booked flights or a holiday that includes flights with a travel firm that holds an ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s Licence) and received confirmation that you are ATOL protected, the travel firm is responsible for your flight arrangements and must either make alternative flights for you so that your holiday can continue or provide a full refund. If you are abroad, it should make arrangements to bring you home at the end of your trip. Contact the ATOL travel firm.

It seems that there were a number of issues that contributed to the collapse of the airline.  Primera’s business model was predicated around the use of new aircraft like the A321neo and the 737MAX.  It seems that delays in the delivery of these new aircraft caused them to lease alternative aircraft at a high cost instead.  Apparently there were also a number of maintenance issues that caused them a number of cancellations and lost revenues.

Clearly this is very sad for all the staff members who are going to be out of a job, and also for members of the public who are now stranded with the collapse of the airline, or out of pocket.

What I think will be interesting to watch is if there are any other casualties of the new trend for low-cost long-haul over the north Atlantic.  Norwegian are the big player here and I’m curious to see if the loss of a competitor in this space helps them pickup new customers, or is redolent of a wider issue with this market segment.  IAG of course have made an offer for Norwegian in the past, which was turned down for under-valuing the company.

What’s certain is that I’m sure there are interesting times ahead.

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