As I mentioned in an earlier article, transatlantic airline Primera Air has ceased operations on Tuesday (October 2), with the airline board claiming they were unable to reach an agreement with its bank, and have “been left with no choice but to file for bankruptcy.”
While Primera Air’s collapse will result in hundreds of employees who will now be instantly out of a job, a large loss of seats in the European aviation market, and a loss to the low-cost long-haul market, there are passengers who are directly affected and would have been travelling the airline very soon.
Here’s what passengers need to know…
There Will Be No More Primera Air Flights
Some airlines (including South African Airways) are ‘technically’ bankrupt, but they continue their day-to-day operations. This is not the case for Primera Air. Primera Air has ceased all operations, ahead of its filing for bankruptcy on October 2.
Passengers should not arrive for any Primera Air flights, (including scheduled, charter, European or transatlantic) as the entire operation of the airline has now been ceased.
Airports, including London Stansted, are advising passengers to contact the airline directly…
We have learned this afternoon that @primeraair has ceased all flight operations and will go into administration at midnight tonight. Passengers due to travel with Primera Air are advised not to travel to the airport and instead contact the airline directly. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/0o6kNgn0ZD
— London Stansted Airport (@STN_Airport) October 1, 2018
Meanwhile, Primera Air has issued a statement informing passengers that “the usual options for contacts (via email or phone) can not be offered any longer” — therefore passengers are now unable to communicate with the bankrupt airline.
There Will Be No ‘Rescue Flights’ for Stranded Passengers Returning to the UK
Primera Air is not covered by the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s ATOL Protection scheme which only covers passengers booked on a package holiday. This means that if passengers are booked on a Primera Air flight to return to the UK, there will not be any ‘rescue operation’ flights, unlike the collapse of Monarch Airlines last year — which triggered the UK’s biggest peacetime repatriation, where passengers were flown home on specially chartered airline jets. Following Monarch’s collapse, the ‘taxpayer’ paid the initial cost of the repatriation, although the government hoped to recoup much of the sum from the ATOL’s protection scheme — this is not the case of Primeria Air’s collapse.
Passengers who have already travelled will need to make their own arrangements to return home. The first point of call should be your travel insurer or travel agent.
If You’re Booked to Fly On Primera Air & Want A Refund
Passengers who are looking to obtain a refund for unused tickets “will need to contact the company directly” — but as I highlighted earlier, for now…this remains impossible.
However, over the next few days, authorities may provide new contact details to the public, regarding refunds — so I’d encourage passengers to continue to check Primera Air’s website for the latest updates.
For most passengers, your travel insurers should be the first point of call. Many travel insurance policies cover ‘scheduled airline failures,’ and if so, the insurers will be able to handle everything from this point onwards.
Passengers who booked directly with Primera Air using a credit or debit card may be able to make a claim against their card provider — another reason why it’s always safer to book flights using a credit card, given passengers are protected by Section 75 of the UK’s Consumer Credit Act 1974.
Booked To Fly Primera Air As Part Of Package Trip
If passengers are due to fly Primera Air as part of a package trip booking created by an ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s Licence) protected firm, this travel firm is responsible for your flight arrangements and must (by UK law) handle all arrangements for passengers.
Passengers Owed Compensation By Primera Air
Thousands of passengers are owed compensation by Primera Air, and I tend to receive four messages a week from passengers informing me that the airline is ‘actively ignoring their daily emails regarding owed compensation’.
The majority of passengers have not yet received the compensation they are owed as a result of severe flight disruptions during the summer period, which is terrible news, given Primera Air were actively instructing passengers with cancelled flights to ‘make other travel arrangements’ while promising ‘Primera Air will pay the compensation later’ — standard practise for some airlines, but especially unfair from an airline drowning in disruption, and failing financially.
The bad news? Passengers waiting on their claims are likely to never receive the compensation they are owed. Last year, many passengers owed money by collapsed-Monarch Airlines never received anything from the airline, once it went under.
Again, passengers should contact travel insurers, to clearly understand what the policy covers.
The abrupt end to Primera Air’s 14-year lifespan reflects the risky decisions the airline undertook when it pressed on with its tremendously fast expansion. The company said it now “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.”
For passengers, your travel insurers should be able to help with all of the necessary arrangements (either refunds or alternative flights).