- Low cost airline Primera Air abruptly ceased all operations on Monday at midnight after 14 years of business.
- Thousands of passengers remain stranded abroad as flights across the UK, North America, and Europe were permanently grounded.
- The Civil Aviation Authority will not run any rescue flights and passengers are left to find their own transportation.
- Some passengers discovered the company went bankrupt after they had already boarded their flights.
- Others were left to shake down refunds from an unresponsive customer service.
- You may be able to claim a refund through your credit card company or travel insurance, and some airlines are offering discounts to stranded passengers.
On the morning of her honeymoon, newlywed Molly Hartshorn got the text message nobody wants to receive: her Primera Air flight from Dulles International Airport to Naples had been cancelled due to “operational issues.” As it turns out, the budget airline, most recently known for its cheap transatlantic flights, was bankrupt.
Hartshorn was not alone. According to The Daily Mail, Primera Air left thousands of passengers stranded throughout North America, the UK, and Europe when they suspended all operations at midnight on Monday after filing for bankruptcy protection. The Independent reports that passengers at London’s Stansted found out about the news as they waited to depart to New York and Washington DC. Others discovered the reason behind the cancellations through Twitter, while passengers in Paris were escorted off a plane they had already boarded.
Airline Primera Air and IATA codes PF and 6F have been suspended as of today, please find more information here: https://t.co/DgKuVIZB5S
According to BBC, Primera Air had been serving mainly Nordic passengers for the last 14 years, toting them off to holiday destinations like Spain, Greece and Italy. In 2017, the airline announced they’d be embarking on new European and transatlantic routes from Stansted and Birmingham airports to cities like New York, Boston, and Toronto. But many of the operations ended before they began, and the Independent reports that the airline abandoned plans for Birmingham all together.
Those who did manage to score a budget-friendly transatlantic flight were were met with a 28-year-old Boeing 747 rather than the brand new Airbus that was advertised. After notorious delays, cancellations, missing luggage and difficult customer service, the airline accumulated just two stars on Trustpilot and a series of harrowing TripAdvisor advisor reviews that would squash anyone’s wanderlust.
The airline reportedly spent $34.7 million leasing planes and rebuilding their aging fleet, but could not receiving financing from their bank, according to The Daily Mail. Primera was set to launch new routes between North America and Madrid this summer.
“I don’t know what to do:” Confusion appears to be a common theme with Primera Air’s closure
I was a passenger on the cancelled flight yesterday from Paris to Toronto. Primera Air declared bankruptcy halfway through the boarding process and passengers had to be escorted out of the plane as all operations have ceased. Read about my experience in my article – link in bio! If you know who the crew were, I hope they get this message and know we appreciated everything they did to try and keep everyone calm and have the situation under control. People were angry and taking it out on the crew – I know they were just doing their job and it wasn’t easy managing this customer tornado while also learning they just lost their jobs. Thank you! . . . . . #primeraair #primeraairlines #pf025 #october1st #paris #toronto #paristotoronto #cancelledflight #bankruptcy #lifestories #reallifeexperiences #cabincrew #airhostess #breakingnews #aviation #bbcnews @cnntravel #cnntravel @nbcnews #nbcnews #cp24 @cbcnews #reuters #financialtimes #travelnews #travelling #travelexperience #travelblogger #stories
A post shared by MJ (@maryjanezvibes) on Oct 2, 2018 at 1:57am PDT
In an essay on Medium, a Primera Air passenger travelling from Paris to Toronto claimed her flight was initially “delayed” or “maybe cancelled.” After deplaning and discovering the actual cause of the cancellation, she describes a scene where crew members and passengers held back tears amidst a “tornado of franticness.”
“I don’t know what to do” was a common phrase overheard in the terminal, wrote the author.
It wasn’t any less confusing for those who never made it to the airport. Molly Hartson told INSIDER that when her honeymoon flights were cancelled, she was given the option of booking a flight for a different day or rebooking a new flight with a different airline, which could be reimbursed up to €1500 (about $1730). The Independent reports this was the standard response for those facing a cancellation, even though Primera had no other flights to offer. Hartson chose the latter in hopes it wouldn’t set back her itinerary. She miraculously managed to find what appeared to be the same exact flight through Hahn Airways, but Primera was listed in the fine print, which raised her alarms.
“I called Hahn Airways to ask them if they were in fact the same cancelled flight, and they were adamant that they were not,” she told INSIDER. “They said there was no way that I could know that one of their flights was cancelled before they did.”
Hartshorn cancelled the flight with Hahn – her second cancellation of the day – and booked a new one through Aer Lingus. As a result, she was forced to miss a day and a half of her trip, which caused issues with her car rental. Hartshorn claims Primera promised to reimburse her, but she’s not holding out hope – despite her emails with customer service. Instead, she pursued getting a refund through her American Express card.
Others were not so lucky. Oliver Elliot found himself down £730 (about $950 USD) after rebooking a flight from Toronto to visit his girlfriend in the UK.
“Primavera Air have disappeared off the planet,” he told INSIDER. “[I] can’t get a hold of them. I’ve had to book other flights. My bank won’t help.”
So, what exactly are you supposed to do if your one of the thousands of passengers stranded by Primera Air?
If you happen to be a Primera Air customer, you’re more or less stuck to navigate the situation on your own. According to The Guardian, the company can no longer be contacted through email or the phone for refunds or rebooking. And the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced they would not intervene because Primera was not covered by their Air Travel Organizers’ Licensing (ATOL) protection scheme. Thankfully, there are a couple options to help procure a refund and get to your destination.
British Airways and Norwegian are offering discounted fares to Primera passengers.According to TTG, both British Airways and Norwegian are offering discounts to those stranded by Primera Air. Norwegian is offering 50% off standard net economy fares for various routes from London Gatwick, New York JFK, Newark, Paris, Boston, and select European cities. To get the discount, you have to call Norwegian’s hotline with your Primera booking or ticket.
You may be able to pursue a refund.
Though Primera Air promised refunds to many of those affected, in the event of an insolvency, it’s advisable to contact your credit card company, bank, travel agent or insurer as soon as possible.
According to BBC, those who paid over £100 (about $130 USD) for their flight and used a credit card may be able to claim a refund via section 75 of the 1974 Consumer Credit Act. If you used a debit card, you could contact you bank and ask for a chargeback. You may be protected under your bank’s individual protection schemes.
If you booked through a travel or airline ticket agent, CAA advises you to speak to them directly. They may be ATOL-protected or have provided travel insurance that includes coverage for a scheduled airline failure.
Other passengers may wish to make a claim through their travel insurance directly.
INSIDER attempted to contact Primera Air for comment and received the following message: “Unfortunately, as Primera Air has ceased operations and all the employees are let go, the press office isn’t available any longer.”
VisitINSIDER’s homepagefor more.
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