Despite the April hype surrounding Latvia-based Primera Air's entry into Europe's discount-fair market, a series of setbacks have warranted the scaling back of many of the newcomer's services. The latest sign of retreat has been the axing of services from Birmingham, UK starting in October.
Primera hasn't announced when services will resume, but chances are that passengers are unlikely to take advantage of any flights taking place during the holiday season. The cancelation affects all flights from Birmingham to such destinations as Alicante, Tenerife, Las Palma, Reykjavik and Malaga, citing "capacity reduction" as the reason for its decision. The service has already started refunding passengers for the inconvenience and suggested they find another airline with similar routes.
“We regret that, for operational reasons, Primera Air is unable to continue flying from Birmingham Airport this winter," said a spokesperson from the airport authority. "We are very sorry for those people whose plans have been disrupted.”
Ordinarily, airlines cut capacity, usually by eliminating flights or abandoning a larger carrier for a much smaller one. Savings from cuts in affected areas normally go towards providing more service in other places where demand is higher. That way, an airline can keep its prices at an affordable level.
But a spokesman at Birmingham's airport, reportedly the seventh-busiest in the UK, reflected disappointment over Primera's decision stating that those flights were in huge demand. And Primera has already made cuts elsewhere during its brief existence in the market so far.
In May, after only a month of operation, flights between Boston and New York were also eliminated, as well as from Birmingham to New York, Toronto and Washington, pointing a finger at Airbus for delaying its delivery of new aircraft best suited for those routes. In October, Primera will also drop flights from London to Alicante and Malaga.
But given the cut-throat nature of the European market for low-cost service across the continent and to North America, there were bound to be casualties in terms of flight availability, since low price points don't offer much financial flexibility in terms of revenue.
Since entering the market, the Icelandic-owned Primera has been aggressively competing with such rivals as Norwegian and Wow, which have been in the market longer and are also feeling the pinch. In October, Norwegian also yanked Birmingham flights destined to such locales as Barcelona, Malaga and Tenerife.