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11 October, 2018 - 12:52 By Tony Quested

Stansted pledges to replace New York flights after Primera Air collapse

London Stansted Airport bosses are pursuing new long haul flights to New York, China and India despite the shock demise of Danish Airline, Primera Air.

Business Weekly understands that the airline sold plenty of seats to and from the destinations it launched from Stansted in April to Toronto, Washington, New York and Boston.

But the late arrival of new aircraft, extra costs of chartering other – unreliable – planes plus rising fuel costs created a perfect storm for an airline that had previously been successful for 14 years.

A Stansted insider told Business Weekly: “Primera Air were actually doing very well in terms of seats sold, which is all the more frustrating when it ends like it did. They were actually selling 35/65 inbound – 65 per cent of bookings were with US/Canadian passengers arriving into the UK. 

“However, you have to make a profit – ‘anyone can give fivers away’ as Alan Sugar once said – and  they were also perhaps running before walking to a degree and being too ambitious with its growth plans in Europe.”

There are never any guarantees on transatlantic flights given the competition is so fierce – Heathrow has 30 New York flights a day on its own – but Stansted is optimistic that it will have an airline doing New York in 2020.

The insider said that Primera’s demise did not change anything re China, India or indeed US direct services. 

“The airlines we are talking to have no connection and serve different markets. As for Emirates, which launched a hub and spoke service from Stansted to Dubai and beyond, they are doing extremely well and providing links all across the world via Dubai.”

Primera Air has said: “2018 began with a fantastic start of our low-cost long-haul project with a brand-new Airbus 321neos fleet. However, due to severe delays of aircraft deliveries this ended up being rocky and incredibly problematic: operational issues, cancellations of number of flights, loss of revenues are just a few issues.”

When  the A321neos failed to arrive on time, Primera Air leased 26-year-old planes from National Airlines, which cost almost €20 million, to keep the scheduled flights running.

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