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Primera collapses before realising transatlantic ambitions

Leisure carrier Primera Air succumbed to financial pressure just a few months after the operator embarked on an ambitious expansion on transatlantic routes.

Primera Air last year detailed plans to open North American services from several European cities, as the carrier reached agreements to modernise its fleet with Airbus A321neo and Boeing 737 Max jets.

The airline disclosed intentions to launch services from London, Paris and Birmingham to cities including Newark, Boston and Toronto.

Primera subsequently unveiled an expansion of this network, with new transatlantic operations planned from Brussels, Berlin, Frankfurt and Madrid, and an expanded number of destinations including Washington and Montreal.

The airline had also been considering services to Indian and African cities.

Primera’s fleet modernisation commenced only in April, when it took delivery of its first A321neo. It has five of the type, leased from companies including Aviation Capital Group.

The carrier had been a customer for the longer-range A321LR, and was set to start introducing a 737 Max fleet from next year.

Primera had eight Max jets on direct order from Boeing and was intending to lease several others.

The airline already used Boeing 737-700s and -800s, several of which were stationed with its Latvian arm Primera Air Nordic.

Delays to the delivery of its CFM International Leap-powered A321neos, and the cost of leasing substitute capacity, had been among the problems cited by Primera after it disclosed that it is set to cease operations on 2 October.

Primera Air’s origins lay in Icelandic operator JetX, before the carrier was taken over by Primera Travel Group, a group of Scandinavian tour and travel operators, including Denmark’s Bravo Tours.

Its collapse comes exactly a year after UK leisure carrier Monarch Airlines ceased operations and entered administration. Primera had stepped into some of the routes vacated by Monarch's failure.

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