Norwegian’s Long-haul Flights From London’s Gatwick To U.S. Have Taken Off

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Yesterday, the first Norwegian long-haul flight out from London’s Gatwick airport took off to the United States. The airline starts flying to Los Angeles, New York and Fort Lauderdale in Florida this week.

Bloomberg Norwegian

The airline has started these flights under its Norwegian operating license while wiating the U.S. Authorities to approve Ireland based Norwegian Air International that already been cleared by the EU.

You can read more about this on BBC’s website here, Financial Times here, WSJ here, Bloomberg here and on Guardian here.

Norwegian has been a discount short-haul carrier that just recently started to fly from Nordic countries to Thailand. The airline has received push back from the unions as it has planned to use cockpit and flight attendants based in Asia (and pay the accordingly) even for the transatlantic flights. The Irish legislation would allow this.

Here are tidbits from the WSJ piece:

The airline is looking to purchase 20 more 787-9 long-haul jets for delivery after 2018, Mr. Kjos said in an interview at London Gatwick airport as the airline began service from there to New York. The additional Dreamliners would accommodate growth plans until 2022, he said.

Norwegian Air operates seven smaller 787-8s and has placed orders and lease commitments to grow the fleet to 17 planes in 2018.

Norwegian Air, which was principally a short-haul discount carrier, last year began low-cost, long-haul operations built around the Dreamliners’ lower fuel burn. The airline suffered a string of technical glitches with the jets that overshadowed the service. Reliability has been improving and is now close to where it should be, Mr. Kjos said

London Gatwick will be a key node in Norwegian Air’s long-haul network where Mr. Kjos expects to tap a large network of discount short-haul airlines to feed passengers onto the carrier’s trans-Atlantic and Asian flights.

Offering discounted trans-Atlantic service means “breaking into the last cartel,” Mr. Kjos said, adding that 87% of the traffic is controlled by the big airline alliances that include Delta Air Lines DAL +0.94% and Scandinavian airline SAS.

Conclusion

It is interesting to see how these flights to the US from London Gatwick perform in the long run. The airline plans to operate these flights only 2 to 3 times a week per destination that doesn’t fit business travelers’ needs at all.

I have flown Norwegian couple of times within Europe and has nothing negative to say about them. Not sure if I would want to use them for long-haul flying as you must pay for the food & beverage and checked in luggage. I guess that if Norwegian can offer significantly lower prices than its transatlantic rivals of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, people could flock to use it.

Even the AirAsia X (Kuala Lumpur based AirAsia long/medium-haul carrier) has dropped its longest routes and mainly operate medium-haul routes within Asia.

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