The Spanish low-cost brand Clickair will soon disappear from the skies, as the carrier gears up for its merger with Vueling.
The merger of the two Barcelona-based airlines is set to be completed by mid-July, at which point the Clickair website, flight codes and aircraft interiors will all be replaced with the Vueling brand. The aircraft exteriors are due to start being repainted in September, and by the end of November the Clickair brand will cease to exist.
Iberia will hold a 45 per cent stake in the new combined Vueling, which will operate a total of 35 Airbus A320s, serving 46 airports and 92 routes. The merger will also see Vueling become the largest carrier at Barcelona’s El Prat airport, with over 26 per cent of the market share.
Clickair currently serves four Spanish routes from London Heathrow – Vigo (seasonal until the end of October), Seville, Bilbao and La Coruna – and Alex Cruz, the new CEO of Vueling (and previously the CEO of Clickair) said that the carrier was “committed to working in London”.
The Vueling brand is virtually unknown in the UK, as until now the carrier has not served any UK routes, but the airline has a significant presence in Spain, where its young, fresh branding has been referred to as “the Spanish Apple” by local media.
During a press conference to confirm details of the merger, Cruz referred to Ryanair several times, stressing that Vueling “will not be successful without a low-cost platform”. It seems likely that Vueling will follow Ryanair’s footsteps in developing new revenue streams, with Cruz saying that the opportunity for ancilliary revenues was “limitless”.
However where the carriers clearly differ is the choice of airports at destinations, with Cruz reiterating Vueling’s policy of serving “main airports and main terminals within these airports”, as demonstrated by the use of Heathrow. Cruz said that he was less concerned by costs at Heathrow than he was by passenger taxes, which he said placed “a huge burden on prices”.
The new carrier will continue to offer a two-tier pricing structure, with more flexible business class fares, but Cruz said that while Vueling will “be going after business… it won’t have hot towels and a curtain”. Vueling has its own frequent flyer scheme called Punto, while Clickair customers have enjoyed access to Iberia’s loyalty programme. Cruz said that initially both schemes would remain open to passengers, with this being reviewed in October.
Report by Mark Caswell