Primera Air Shuts Down, Ceases Operations, Strands Customers and Employees

Grim news awaited visitors of the official Internet web site of Primera Air — which suddenly ceased operations earlier this morning after only approximately 14 years — as the following divisions of the airline are no longer in business:

  • Primera Air Scandinavia, which is an air carrier based in Denmark
  • Primera Air Nordic, which is an air carrier based in Latvia

Primera Air Shuts Down, Ceases Operations, Strands Customers and Employees

All that awaited visitors of the official Internet web site of Primera Air was the following message as of this morning:

9/30/2018 9:00:00 PM

Dear Passengers,

Airline Primera Air and IATA codes PF and 6F have been suspended as of today, October 2nd, 2018.

On behalf of Primera Air team, we would like to thank you for your loyalty. On this sad day we are saying Goodbye to all of you.

Please visit primeraair.com for further updates in next few days. Tour Operator passengers are kindly suggested to address their Tour Operators and Agents for further information and actions.

Kindly understand that the usual options for contacts (via email or phone) can not be offered any longer.

Sincerely yours.

Primera Air team

More information is revealed in this official press release from the airline:

Primera Air ceases operations

Denmark, Copenhagen

October 1st, 2018

With a great regret, we must inform you that Primera Air will cease all operations on the midnight of October 1st, 2018 and enter administration process, after 14 years of operations.

This is a sad day for all the employees and passengers of Primera Air. The company has been working relentlessly during the last months to secure the long-term financing of the airline. Not being able to reach an agreement with our bank for a bridge financing, we had no other choice than filing for bankruptcy.

During the last 2 years, several unforeseen misfortunate events severely affected the financial standing of Primera Air. In 2017, the company lost one aircraft from operations due to severe corrosion problems and had to bear the total cost of rebuilding, resulted in a loss of more than 10 million euros. 2018 began with a fantastic start of our low-cost long-haul project with a brand-new Airbus 321neo fleet, however, due to severe delays of aircraft deliveries this beginning ended up being rocky and incredibly problematic: operational issues, cancelations of number of flights, loss of revenues are just a few to mention. In addition, to fulfill our obligations in front of passengers, Primera Air leased in aircraft and beared additional costs of over 20 million euros.

Weighting the potential losses due to future delivery delays, and the added exposure to our partners and lessors, and bearing in mind the difficult environment that airlines are facing now due to low prices and high fuel costs, we have decided to cease operations now, where it will have a smaller effect on our clients, due to the timing of the year, rather than increasing the exposure. Without additional financing, we do not see any possibility to continue our operations.

This is an enormous disappointment after the incredible hard work and dedication put into building the airline. The company wants to sincerely thank all its employees for their hard work and dedication, its clients for years of loyal support and its suppliers for their cooperation during the years.

Sincerely,

The board of Primera Air

The Civil Aviation Authority — which is the independent specialist aviation regulator of the United Kingdom established as a public corporation by Parliament in 1972 — has alerted that Primera Air is not covered by its Air Travel Organiser’s Licence protection scheme.

With London Stansted Airport as one of its bases of operations, Primera Air had been experiencing financial difficulties in recent years for a number of different reasons — most notably, the increasing competition from ultra-low-cost carriers such as easyJet and from established legacy carriers offering lower-cost options; as well as due to the write-off of an airplane as a result of corrosion, delays of the delivery of Airbus A321neo airplanes and resultant wet leasing, and being unable to secure financing for the long term. The shutdown of the airline earlier today was sudden but not surprising.

What You Can Do

Unfortunately, there is little that you can do if you are one of the customers affected by the shutdown of operations by Primera Air; but a few possible options do exist.

According to the aforementioned Civil Aviation Authority, if you booked your reservations directly with Primera Air and paid for your ticket with a credit card, you may be protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and should contact your credit card issuer for further information. Similarly, if you paid by debit or charge card, contact the issuer of your debit or charge card for advice, as you may be able to submit a claim under their charge back rules.

If you purchased travel insurance which may include cover for scheduled airline failure, you should contact your insurer. If you did not book directly with Primera Air and purchased your tickets through an intermediary, you should contact your booking or travel agent in the first instance.

Passengers who booked directly with the company via either a credit card, charge card or debit card may alternatively be able to submit a claim against the provider of their cards. Some card providers will ask for a negative response letter confirming the position. Passengers may also be able to submit a claim against their travel insurer.

Additional advice is given pertaining to this situation by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Beware of being euphemistic pertaining to the statement of “Please visit primeraair.com for further updates in next few days.” Customers are usually amongst the last in a line of creditors; and although the likelihood of receiving a full refund is almost impossible, a partial refund is likely improbable as well.

In other words, consider what you paid for the ticket to be permanently lost — especially when perusing at the official Twitter account of Primera Air, you will see that angry and frustrated customers who have been waiting for months for refunds pertaining to unrelated issues still had not received their money:

Airlines with competing routes sometimes offer special airfares to customers who are displaced or stranded by an airline which ceased operations — but as Primera Air had a fleet of only seven airplanes, the airline is likely not large enough to prompt this to happen.

In fact, one of those airplanes was “detained” by London Stansted Airport.

Summary

Primera Air is the latest casualty in a string of carriers which have ceased operations in recent years — including but not limited to WindJetAir NigeriaSpanairMalév Hungarian AirlinesAir Australia, Monarch Airlines, and airberlin.

Interestingly, the ceasing of operations of Monarch Airlines occurred exactly one year ago today — and some of the affected employees experienced déjà vu working for Primera Air:

Learning about the demise of a commercial airline is unfortunate news — especially at a time when some airlines are experiencing record profits due to the advent of ancillary fees.

One reader of The Gate wondered if a co-worker who is affected by the ceasing of operations of Primera Air should consider legal action against the now-defunct airline. I would advise against this, as that course of action would likely be little more than an aggravating waste of time and money.

If you are one of the customers affected by the sudden shutdown of Primera Air, try to look on the bright side: your ticket probably did not cost you much money in relation to those offered by competitors; so your loss is not substantial — and the cost of travel insurance might not have done much to defray the loss.

To better protect yourself in the future from having a similar situation happening to you, consider patronizing a low-cost carrier which is backed by a larger company — for example, Transavia is operated by KLM Royal Dutch Airways; and both Level Airlines and Vueling are operated by International Airlines Group, which is the parent company of British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus. I flew as a passenger on an airplane operated by Vueling; and I intend to post my experience in a future article here at The Gate.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

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