British Airways parent International Airlines Group (IAG) launched its new low-cost long-haul carrier LEVEL from Barcelona on Thursday with a flight to Los Angeles

Chief executive Willie Walsh shook off any hangover from BA’s IT meltdown last weekend to declare: “This is a fantastic new adventure for IAG.”

He said the inaugural flight left full, with 314 passengers on board a new Airbus A330. Tickets only went on sale on March 17.

LEVEL launched flights between Barcelona and San Francisco (Oakland) today (June 2) and Walsh said: “Sales are well ahead of our expectations in all markets.

“The brand has resonated with a new audience, many of whom are flying long-haul for the first time.”

Flights to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic will start on June 10, operating twice a week, and to Buenos Aires on June 17 three times a week. The LA flights will operate twice a week and San Francisco three times.

However, LEVEL won’t remain confined to Barcelona. In a statement, IAG said: “This is the first step towards LEVEL’s expansion from other European cities.”

The carrier has begun operations with two A330s, but will expand to five next year and Walsh said: “We are considering other European bases.”

IAG also comprises Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling.

Speaking at the CAPA Airline Leaders’ Summit in Dublin last month, Walsh said: “The creation of LEVEL is a recognition that the brands we have today could not compete in that [low-cost, long-haul] segment.

“It is a different customer base to the traditional customer base we had.

“LEVEL will launch using the Iberia platform, but will be sold in a different way and have LEVEL [crew] uniforms and livery.”

Flights can be booked through the sites of sister airlines Iberia and Vueling as well as flylevel.com and customers can earn and redeem points through the IAG loyalty scheme Avios.