International Airlines Group is mulling the launch of a new low-cost transatlantic carrier to rival the growth of Norwegian Airlines.
IAG – owner of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling – is planning to use Airbus A330s from Barcelona, the home base of Vueling.
The move will allow Vueling to provide feeder traffic for long-haul services.
UK flag-carrier British Airways has already announced plans for flights to Oakland, San Francisco, and Fort Lauderdale as the market across the Atlantic grows increasingly competitive.
Both flights were widely perceived as a reaction to the success of Norwegian which will increase its transatlantic flights from the UK by 55 per cent next summer.
An IAG spokesperson said: “International Airlines Group plans to set up a next generation long-haul operation in Barcelona from June 2017.
“Barcelona has become a significant airport hub and we believe that there is a demand for these flights from El Prat.
“It is also Vueling’s base and we will be able to hub passengers from Vueling’s extensive European network onto these long-haul flights.
“Destinations being considered include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, Havana and Tokyo.
“Options for the new route include setting up a new airline or consider using existing resources from IAG’s airlines.
“No final decision has yet been made.
“This new operation will add another dimension to IAG and complement the other airlines in the Group.”
British Airways has witnessed a rise in competition on lucrative transatlantic routes, with fast-expanding Norwegian joining WestJet and Wow Air in offering low-cost services.
In response, Eurowings, the low-cost Lufthansa owned carrier, started flying long-haul to destinations such as Cuba, Thailand and the Dominican Republic from Cologne.