OpenSkies Is Being Discontinued, LEVEL Launching Longhaul Flights From Paris

Filed Under: British Airways, Open Skies

IAG is the parent company of Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, and Vueling. Earlier this year they launched LEVEL, which is a new longhaul ultra low cost carrier intended to compete with the likes of Norwegian and WOW Air.


This June LEVEL began operating flights between Barcelona and Los Angeles, Oakland, Punta Cana, and Buenos Aires. On top of that, the airline will be adding flights to Boston as of March 2018. While the airline initially had two A330s based in Barcelona, we knew that long term they planned on adding more flights out of other airports. It looks like we now know the next step of their plan, per an announcement from IAG.

LEVEL is launching longhaul flights out of Paris Orly

As of next summer, LEVEL will offer flights from Paris Orly to Montreal, Newark, Guadeloupe, and Martinique, as the airline will be stationing two Airbus A330s in France.

Fares start at just 99EUR one-way (129EUR one-way for the Newark route), and tickets go on sale today at Here are the specific details about the new flights:

  • Flights to Montreal start on July 2, 2018 and operate three times per week
  • Flights to Guadeloupe start on July 3, 2018 and operate four times per week
  • Flights to Martinique start on September 3, 2018 and operate three times per week
  • Flights to New York (Newark) start on September 4, 2018 and operate four times per week

As a reminder, LEVEL’s Airbus A330s have 293 economy seats and 21 premium economy seats, and the airline charges for just about everything, ranging from seat assignments to carry-on bags.


But this isn’t the most interesting part of the announcement, at least to me.

OpenSkies is being discontinued in summer 2018

British Airways has a premium transatlantic airline called OpenSkies, that operates flights exclusively between New York and Paris. British Airways launched OpenSkies back in 2008 as a defensive move, given that there were several startups at the time trying to offer an all business class transatlantic product.

When OpenSkies first launched they had business class, premium economy, and economy, so it was a pretty premium heavy configuration for a 757. In the meantime the airline has four planes, including three 757s and one 767, and they’ve tweaked their configurations a bit to add more seats.

With LEVEL adding flights out of Paris Orly, the OpenSkies brand will be retired at the end of next summer. LEVEL’s flights out of Paris will be operated by staff who currently work for OpenSkies, and LEVEL will be duplicating the Paris Orly to Newark route (though with a very different service concept).

I guess it’s not too surprising to see this. British Airways ultimately launched OpenSkies on the defensive (and bought L’Avion as a way of eliminating one of their competitors — go figure the founder of L’Avion turned around and started La Compagnie, an airline that has exactly the same business model.

But I guess nowadays IAG views the likes of Norwegian and WOW Air as bigger competitors than they view any premium transatlantic airline.

Bottom line

It’s great to see LEVEL expand beyond Spain, as this should be great news for those looking to travel to & from Paris on cheap fares. I guess it’s not a huge surprise, but unfortunately these flights are coming at the expense of OpenSkies.

Are you surprised to see IAG discontinuing OpenSkies?

  1. Unsurprising.

    And IAG has just bought the majority of LGW slots previously owned by bankrupt carrier Monarch. I’d expect LEVEL to launch from there in the next few months.

  2. The frustrating thing about these new longhaul LCCs is that they don’t have any agreements with local airlines for feeder flights. The prices from Montreal to Paris are enticing, but YUL is a 10-11 hour drive for me. So I’d have to add gas, parking, and a hotel room on either end of the trip which would kill any savings that an LCC might give me. Buying my own connecting flight on a separate ticket might cost more than the TATL, and would carry the risk of a misconnect due to IRROPS. LCC TATL longhaul will likely never benefit those of us who live in small markets that are very distant from the big centres.

  3. Smart move. Everyone complains about LCC’s and say things like they don’t work for me etc, its basically a point to point airline.

    No one is forcing you to fly them and it will work for a lot of people.

  4. We moan about LCCs, but the only European one I don’t fly is Ryanair 🙂 The others are almost polite and mostly useful.

  5. Tbh I am surprised it’s taken BA this long to kill OpenSkies. It wasn’t really consistent with their strategy of feeding through London (a lot of direct flights from UK regions were killed with this as an excuse), and by all accounts wasn’t really doing all that well.

  6. @When I Travel the World I don’t think anyone has said there isn’t a market for ULCCs, there are plenty of people who are perfectly happy to fly Spirit or Ryanair and they will be happy to fly LEVEL. This is a logical next step in the process of making more affordable flying available to more people that started way back with Pan Am’s tourist fares.

    The real loss in the Paris market is in terms of mileage earning. OpenSkies flights earned with oneworld airlines at rates competitive to BA mainline. LEVEL if I recall correctly only earns Avios (used to have decent rates on AA but either got eliminated or gutted) and only offers Y and PE, so you lose a nonstop oneworld J option from NYC-PAR and earning opportunites on those flights.

  7. I think there is a slight mistake in your article: OpenSkies did not launch with business, premium economy and economy: it didn’t have economy at all up until a couple of years ago, presumably because the model was not sustainable with only premium eco and business.
    That being said, I haven’t flown them in a while but I’m bummed they will be leaving. Their premium economy was actually far superior to any other premium economy, and was more like and old school business class. The recliners are super comfy and there is a ton of legroom. I actually like those seat better than their cramped “BizBed”.
    Of course there is still La Compagnie, but the good thing with OpenSkies is that you could rely on BA flights if something was going wrong.

  8. I don’t think Ryanair is the worst LCC out there, in Europe I would say Vueling and Wizz Air are far worse. Everyone I know who has flown with them, and you don’t have to look on Skytrax to see how dreadful they are in comparison – hear far fewer complaints than Ryanair.

    Vueling’s case just shows how low IAG are willing to go, and why BA is being decimated by fatty Cruz so much given thats where he came from (although interestingly he was previously at American during some of its worst period). Its why I don’t have much confidence in LEVEL being much good – think it’s laughable they think they can challenge Norwegian, they provide a superior service that IAG would only bungle. They have no innovation or vision.

  9. I just flew OpenSkies over Thanksgiving. I did it in “BizBed” going to New York and Economy on the flight back to Paris. Considering the quality that I saw on both flights, I would say that OpenSkies is already providing Low-Cost service and I do not mean that in any positive sense.

    Over the past 3 years that I have flew OpenSkies, the quality getting more like the aircraft: worn-out.

    Alex Cruz may be a genius but the way he treats his employees and customers is really annoying.

  10. Openskies was our first experience sitting up front of the plane on a longhaul flight. It was the final leg of a day-long journey of apprehension, as the culmination of a year-long journey of collecting miles and points where I wasn’t absolutely sure there wasn’t some catch we would discover at the last moment. But our experience was perfect, even if in retrospect there were better options. It was my first time flying First/Business class at all, and it tasted even better knowing that we were doing it for relatively little cost. Even though now I will always try to get on a AA 777 instead of anything BA, if just to avoid the fuel surcharges, it’ll still have a special place in my heart.

  11. @smallmj – For now. In time you’ll see them operating routes from small markets too – just like Norwegian is starting to do in the US and they all do for short haul flights.

  12. was just making a comparison. BCN-BUE-BCN end of jan 28th – Feb. 11th 2018. Total price in premium eco = EUR 2134.
    I was booking AF/KLM from HAM-BUE-HAM for EUR 2.344 in BC.
    Nice low cost carrier!…………Like others already posted: no one is being forced to fly them.

  13. @callum

    There are small markets and then there are small markets. Norwegian and the like go to small markets that are within striking distance of large markets.

    The East Coast of Canada where I live is a just plain small market that it not close to anything at all. We currently have just a few TATL options that don’t involve flying 600-800 km westbound before turning around to fly east. But they are not on LCC carriers, and definitely don’t have LCC prices. Icelandair is usually the best option.

    Perhaps the C series or the 737MAX/A320NEO will open up LCC routes to the truly small markets. That would be nice for me. If I can get to continental Europe for under C$600 in the summer then I am much more likely to fly. At C$900+ it is expensive for me to fly with a family of 5.

  14. My brother recently had to go to Paris on business at short notice and he lives near LGW.

    He couldn’t believe his luck when he saw that BA had a flight from Gatwick with seats available that suited his time frames, it meant he didn’t have to travel an extra hour to Heathrow or London City.

    When he arrived for his flight, it turned out it was a BA flight operated by Vueling much to his horror. He said it was awful, he’s 6’7” tall and couldn’t fit in the seats.

    Not just that but they are not business flights. I thought it was strange when I saw that his outbound flight didn’t get above 24,000 feet which is just weird for an A320.

    The long and the short of this is beware of anything run by IAG. If they’re happy dilute their premium BA brand in such a way, what is their budget airline going to be like?

    IAG = crap in my experience and they don’t care if you think so either.

  15. Why do they have “Level” (Such a stupid name, thought up by the morons at IAG) there normal product would do. BA Budget Airline

  16. Openskies has slowly deteriorated into a complete dump, and in all classes. Short of seeing rats on board, things could not get worse. Their disapperance is akin to mercy killing.

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