Fast-growing Norwegian Air Shuttle is planning to launch non-stop scheduled flights to New York from Oslo and Stockholm in the spring of 2013 with Boeing 787s and will offer introductory round-trip fares from Scandinavia of NOK2,000 ($355) on the routes, inclusive of taxes.
Low-cost carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle, which is based at Fornebu (formerly the site of Oslo’s main airport) and does business simply as ‘Norwegian’, plans to begin selling the introductory fares about 300 days in advance of beginning its Oslo-New York and Stockholm-New York services. Since Norwegian hopes to begin serving New York in spring 2013, it expects to begin selling tickets for the routes in 2012, spokespeople for the airline confirm.
According to a spokesman for Norwegian, the airline hopes to begin services to New York from both Oslo and Stockholm at about the same time. Initially, however, Norwegian will not operate flights to New York from each city on a daily basis, because it won’t have enough Boeing 787s in its fleet to offer daily services from both destinations. Eventually Norwegian does hope to offer daily services from both Oslo and Stockholm to New York, the spokesman says.
Norwegian is due to take delivery of one leased Boeing 787-8 from leasing company International Lease Finance Corp (ILFC) in late 2012 and one in early 2013 and is also due to receive in the first half of 2013 the first two of three 787-8s it has on order from Boeing. Norwegian is also scheduled to receive one Boeing 787 in 2014 (also leased from ILFC) and is due to take the remaining 787 from its own order in 2015. Norwegian secured early Boeing 787 delivery positions by agreeing with Icelandair in June to take over the Reykjavik-based carrier’s order for three aircraft.
A spokeswoman for Norwegian explain that, depending on when the carrier actually does receive its first 787, it could either begin long-haul non-stop services first to Bangkok – the other destination the carrier has identified as a key long-haul market for its low-fare services from Oslo and Stockholm – or to New York. Much depends on how well Boeing keeps to its latest planned delivery schedule for the 787, which has encountered unprecedented production delays throughout its development.
Bangkok is more of a winter-season destination for travelers from the Nordic countries, whereas New York is more of a spring and summer destination, the spokeswoman explains. Accordingly, if Norwegian does receive its first Boeing 787-8 in late 2012 as planned, it is likely to start service first to Bangkok. If the first aircraft is delivered in early 2013, Norwegian is more likely to start service first to New York.
Since Norwegian Air Shuttle is based in Norway, flies much of its network from and within the Nordic countries and has a strong following among Nordic travelers, the carrier initially expects to attract most of its New York long-haul passengers from Norway, Sweden and other Nordic and Scandinavian countries.
“But it is equally important for us to attract American travelers,” says the spokeswoman, noting that travelers from any country are attracted by low fares.
In addition to the low fares it plans to offer, Norwegian sees its strong network of routes throughout the Nordic countries, Scandinavia and Europe as a strong selling point in attracting U.S.-originating passengers. The airline already operates a substantial fleet of Boeing 737-800s and 737-300s on 261 routes linking more than 100 destinations throughout Europe.
The spokeswoman notes that, as long as Norwegian’s fares are competitive, it is as easy for U.S. passengers to connect to other European destinations from modern and uncongested Oslo Airport Gardermoen and Stockholm-Arlanda Airport as it is for them to connect from major, congested hubs such as London Heathrow, Frankfurt and Paris Charles de Gaulle.
By the end of 2012 new Boeing 737-800s will replace the 11 737-300s which Norwegian now has in service. The carrier has ordered a total of 78 Boeing 737-800s directly from the manufacturer (along with options on up to 27 more) and also operates as many as 26 leased 737-800s. Along with the deliveries of its Boeing 787s, the rapid build-up of its fleet of new Boeing 737-800s will give Norwegian one of the youngest fleets of any airline in the world.
Norwegian has no plans as yet to announce long-haul service to or from any other destinations but the spokeswoman notes the aircraft has the range to fly non-stop from Scandinavia to destinations such as Cape Town, Hawaii and Rio de Janeiro. Meanwhile, the spokesman for Norwegian says Copenhagen could prove an attractive airport from which to offer 787 service.