Lots of New Players in 2018 so there’s way more competition.
There’s a secondary effect of declining fuel costs: The lower prices have allowed established airlines to boost transatlantic routes and encouraged low-cost upstarts to get into the game. Both Norwegian Air and Iceland-based WOW Air have jumped into the transatlantic market in recent years and expanded rapidly, with new routes from the U.S. and special introductory fares under $100 seemingly announced every few weeks. Norwegian, in particular, uses the exceptionally fuel-efficient 787 Dreamliner on transatlantic routes, and passes along the cost savings to passengers in the form of cheaper airfare.
Larger carriers like Aer Lingus and Icelandair are likewise bumping up U.S. routes and advertising flight deals left and right. Even British Airways is expanding service, with new flights this year connecting London to New Orleans, Oakland, Calif., and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. And Level, a low-fare corporate sibling to British Airways, launches this summer, offering flights from California to Spain for as little as $149 too.
While the biggest airfare declines are generally for destinations frequented by the low-cost competitors, prices are cheaper almost anywhere you want to go in Europe. Data from Kayak.com shows that median airfare from the U.S. to 20 major European airports is down at least 20% this spring and summer compared with 2016 fares, with much bigger declines in flight search results for cities like Barcelona (down 31%), Paris (35%), Amsterdam (36%), and Zurich (43%). The flight search app Hopper reports similar data, with average European airfare prices down 18% for the summer of 2017, following a decrease of about 14% between summer 2015 and 2016.
In addition to airlines like Norwegian, AirAsiaX and WOW Air, there are also new players entering the long-haul, low-cost market this year.
The airline LEVEL (from IAG, the company that owns British Airways and Iberia) announced new routes starting in March 2018, including Barcelona to Boston and Paris to Montreal, New York City, Guadeloup and Martinique. One-way airfare starts at $118.
Fuel costs have tumbled.
“Cheap fuel is by far the most important factor” in the sharp decline of airfare to Europe, says Seth Kaplan, managing partner of the industry newsletter Airline Weekly. Beyond the general cost of owning or leasing aircraft, the largest expense for the low-fare airlines is fuel. So the huge drop in prices over the past few years is what’s made the current golden era for low-cost Europe flights possible. “In inflation-adjusted terms, it’s about as cheap as it’s ever been,” Kaplan says.
That’s been a game-changer. During the mid-’00s, fuel prices spiked and airlines added fuel surcharges onto flight prices to pass the costs on to passengers. Until fairly recently, these surcharges averaged $450 round trip on transatlantic flights, and taxes and fees tacked on another $165 or so, according to FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney. “So you’re in the low $600s even before charging for airfare,” Seaney says.
It’s official. We’re living in a time where airlines you’ve never heard of are giving the airlines we’re all loyal to a run for their money. Travel can be expensive, for instance the cost of travel insurance for the over 85s can seriously eat into a budget!
Well, if you ask the US3, their Middle Eastern non-competitors are the problem and not the increasing number of low-cost carriers populating Atlantic airspace. Even Jet2 has leased an A330 to fly from London to New York, who’d have thought?! Frankly, I wouldn’t even be surprised anymore if we saw an announcement from FlyBe that they’ll be launching London City to Los Angeles flights on their Dash-8s soon…
Well, I guess we shouldn’t see this as much of a surprise, but Scandinavian leisure airline Primera Air will add flights from London, Birmingham, and Paris, to Newark and Boston, as of spring 2018. They will operate these flights with a fleet of brand-new Airbus A321neos, while working on more routes for the near future. They have a total of eight A321neos on order, plus two A321LRs (they’re even the launch customer for this plane type).
Per @airlineroute, their new routes include the following:
London Stansted to Newark 1x daily starting April 19, 2018
London Stansted to Boston 4x weekly starting May 18, 2018
Birmingham to Newark 1x daily starting May 18, 2018
Birmingham to Boston 4x weekly starting June 22, 2018
Paris Charles de Gaulle to Newark 1x daily starting May 18, 2018
Paris Charles de Gaulle to Boston 3x weekly starting June 21, 2018