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Norwegian launches to Argentina and will expand Asia

February 15, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Norwegian Air, Europe’s third-largest cut-price carrier (after Ryanair and easyJet), has launched services to South America, set its sights on further route expansion there and new routes to Asia, and is moving to boost its appeal to business travellers.

Norwegian yesterday (Wednesday 14 February 2018) began the first-ever low-cost route from Britain to South America, “breaking the monopoly on flights between London and Buenos Aires”, as Norwegian put it. The airline also plans to give passengers from the UK onward connections to cities around Argentina and Latin America.

Norwegian is preparing to launch new domestic services in Argentina after receiving an Air Operator’s Certificate from the Argentine authorities.

The airline’s chief executive, Bjorn Kjos, one of the founding partners of Norwegian in 2002, addressed British media at The Shard in central London yesterday to explain the growing importance of the British market and the airline’s strategic plans.

Kjos said Norwegian would continue to pursue further route expansion from London to South America and Asia. The airline was exploring potential new routes to more South American countries “due to strong ticket sales on the Buenos Aires route”.

Norwegian Air chief executive Bjorn Kjos

He said further Asia expansion would build upon the successful launch of the world’s longest low-cost route to Singapore, with destinations such as Tokyo, Shanghai and Beijing planned if the airline receives access to the Siberian corridor.

“The Siberian corridor gives Norwegian the most efficient and direct routing across Russia to the Far East,” Kjos said. Norwegian would need Russian permission to operate that.

Norwegian first launched transatlantic services from London Gatwick to the US in 2014. It has since flown more than 2 million passengers on its transatlantic routes at London Gatwick. The airline flew more than 5.1 million UK passengers in 2017.

It is now beginning a series of new long-haul routes using B787 Dreamliners. These include the flights to South America and new direct services to Chicago and Austin in March.

Norwegian wants to boost its appeal to business travellers, Kjos said. The airline will add 21 more Premium seats to its B787 Dreamliners, with lounge access included with Premium tickets. Norwegian also has plans to increase frequency on key routes from Gatwick to give business customers more flexibility.

London-Buenos Aires will increase to a daily service this Northern winter, while further increases to Los Angeles from nine to 11 flights per week and an increase from two to four weekly flights to Fort Lauderdale (Miami), are also planned. Norwegian also has long-term ambitions to secure slots for a triple-daily Gatwick-New York service.

Norwegian will take delivery of eight new Airbus A321neo LR (long range) aircraft next year and will use them to serve the UK from 2020. The A321neo LR will be Norwegian’s first Airbus planes. Plans are underway to use them on routes from London to the US East Coast and Midwest. The airline has cited cities such as Detroit, Philadelphia and Minneapolis as examples of destinations that could be served. Norwegian will also consider routes to the Middle East using the Airbus A321neo LR.

Written by Peter Needham

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