The IAG group has announced the immediate closure of its low-cost subsidiary Level Europe and its bankruptcy, with the closure of its bases in Vienna and Amsterdam. Level’s long-haul operations, in particular in France, are not affected.
Grounded since March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the small airline launched in 2018 at Vienna-Schwechat airport will not take off again. It’s June 18, 2020 press release states that a director will be appointed to manage the bankruptcy, with more details to be released on June 24. In the meantime, she asked the passengers, for whom she said she was unable to find alternative flights, « not to contact her for two days because her call centers are already overwhelmed. » No explanation for this sudden decision is provided except for the effects of the health crisis, as the Austrian government’s desire to ban plane tickets under 40 euros probably played a role.
Level Europe operated a fleet of two Airbus A320s and four A321s, offering a network of 18 mainly tourist destinations from Vienna (including to Paris-CDG) but also from the Amsterdam-Schiphol base opened in April 2019.
The airline’s corporate history is a bit complicated: its flights are operated by Anisec Luftahrt (with Austrian AOC), created by IAG when the group wanted to buy Niki (finally taken over by its founder and now in the hands of Ryanair Holdings under the Lauda brand) and technically a subsidiary of Vueling – also present under its own brand at Schwechat airport. Having operated its first flights in July 2018 from Vienna, the new low cost was, according to Willie Walsh, « to offer Austrian customers a wider choice of flights across Europe. The flights will be operated under the Level brand, thereby capitalizing on the success of our new low-cost long-haul company. ”
Long-haul flights under the Level brand, departing from Paris-Orly (to Fort-de-France, Pointe-à-Pitre, Montreal, and New York) and Barcelona (seven destinations) are not affected by this bankruptcy; the Airbus A330-200 nevertheless remains grounded due to the health crisis. If the low cost continues to operate repatriation flights, no resumption of regular operations has been announced.