Norwegian Wants To Offer $69 Transatlantic Flights

There are some ultra low cost carriers which are doing what they can to shake up the transatlantic market. While we have low cost carriers like JetBlue and Southwest in the US, their fares often aren’t actually lower than what you’d pay on a legacy airline. Instead they just have a lower cost structure, with savings often not passed on to the consumer.

Outside the US there are quite a few ultra-low cost carriers, which have outrageously low base fares, and then they charge for every add-on imaginable.

One such airline is WOW Air, which operates a hub out of Reykjavik. They fly to the US (both Baltimore and Boston), and you can book them either just to Iceland, or book a connecting flight on them to Europe. Fares start at just $99 one-way, which is sort of insane.

As of now the only ultra low cost carrier operating direct nonstop flights between the US and continental Europe is Norwegian Air Shuttle.

Norwegian-Route-Network

You can consistently find fares of under $500 roundtrip on them, though you also pay for virtually all add-ons.

Norwegian

It seems that they want to do even better. Norwegian Air Shuttle wants to start selling transatlantic tickets for as little as $69 one-way by 2017, which is substantially less than they’re charging now.

How does Norwegian plan on accomplishing that? They have orders for 100 737 MAX jets, which are 737s which will have the range to operate transatlantic flights. Norwegian’s goal is to begin flying these planes between Europe and smaller airports in the US, which will have considerably lower fees associated with them.

Via NBC News:

Europe’s third-largest budget airline is considering flights to Edinburgh and Bergen, Norway from U.S. airports that have little to no international service today, such as New York’s Westchester County Airport and Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport, just north of Hartford, Kjos said.

Average prices on such routes are likely to be closer to $300 round trip, Kjos said, compared with many of Norwegian’s fares that run more than $500 today because of higher fees levied by busier airports.

Norwegian-787

That’s a brilliant business model, especially when you have smaller planes which could actually offer the right capacity for smaller markets. Up until now we haven’t really seen planes with such low capacity be able to efficiently operate transatlantic flights, so this could be a game changer.

The thing to keep in mind is that even though Norwegian might have super cheap fares between the US and Europe, they charge optional fees which can quickly add up to make them as expensive as a ticket on a legacy airline.

What do you think of Norwegian’s desire to operate 737 transatlantic flights to smaller airports with super low fares?

Comments

  1. @Brian. The problem is that you need demand at both ends. EDI might be ok, positioned conveniently also for Glasgow, but Bergen is a very small place. Cheap flights out of these places are not an option since Norwegian offer no connections except on Norwegian themselves which don’t do much at all outside CPH, OSL and a handful of other major European airports.

  2. So, Norwegian will buy 100 737s, start flying them between oddball city pairs with just enough traffic between them to fill the planes a few times a week – and then fuel prices will rise again. Whammo, so much for Norwegian.

  3. I’m not sure how “low-fee” airports like Westchester or Bradley would be for Norwegian Air Shuttle with the expense of building customs & immigration facilities (Westchester has services for arriving private planes, but not for airliners. I don’t know what Bradley has.) This is going to be a major hurdle for service to many smaller airports in the US.

    Is EDI a potential candidate for US preclearance?

  4. 2017 Lucky?

    Try 2016 Boston-Cork in Ireland, if US gov will let them of course. With a 738, not the MAX
    https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2015/09/28/norwegian-air-plans-boston-cork-route-for/7MuxY40HizP1SNvfNi6yaI/story.html

    Norwegian seem to become rather large in Boston
    http://www.bostonherald.com/business/business_markets/2015/10/norwegian_air_spreads_its_wings_at_logan
    Including the Caribbean, well the French part at least.
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/tedreed/2015/06/25/norwegian-air-playing-an-angle-will-serve-french-caribbean-from-u-s-and-eyes-boston-europe/

    @NB
    Norwegian seems to be able to fly a 787 JFK-BGO in summer, nobody said this would be a year around route on the 737.
    http://www.businesstraveller.com/news/100071/norwegian-to-fly-b787-from-bergen-to-jfk
    http://www.boarding.no/art.asp?id=57557

  5. @NB Norwegian is already operating a B787 between Bergen and JFK with great success. From Bergen and onwards Norwegian offers a very wide network as well. Though their main hubs are in Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, London and Barcelona, these hubs are just a short flight away, and I am sure that the routes will be planned in terms of connecting flights. I don’t know how much you know about the route network over here, but Norwegian is one of the major European carriers. Additionally Norway is actually a very popular tourist destination, especially after the movie Frozen came out. Crazy as it might sound, it really created a boom of tourists.

  6. Condor Airlines used this plan starting this past summer into PVD. They flew seasonal summer service with one flight each way b/w PVD and Frankfurt two or three times a week using 767-300 which is the biggest plane servicing PVD right now until the runway expansion is complete. The fares were much cheaper than flying out of Boston plus its much easier to get to PVD.

  7. I recently saw airfares on Norwegian that were very interesting. I understand there are extra fees and such, but it is a 787 dreamliner and one can fly JFK to Paris and such round trip for around $1,000 next June, which beats any price in coach on any other carrier ($1500+) on an old 767 or 777 packed to the gills. Either way, business and first aren’t what they used to be transcon.

  8. I wouldn’t call Norwegian an “Ultra low cost” carrier. The biggest differentiator being the tickets with connecting flights if you compare to any of the carriers I really consider “Ultra low cost” (like Ryanair, EasyJet, etc.).

  9. The lack of CBP facilities at some of the potential target airports won’t matter so much. OSL and ARN are both getting CBP Preclearance Facilities. MAN, BRU, MAD and AMS are too and you could imagine DY will try and step into some of these markets using these facilities. Flights to BUF could be quite appealing to both the Upstate NY area as well as SE Ontario. But even if that isn’t the plan, there are plenty of smaller airports in the US North East and Mid West with CBP facilities that would make sense with these 737 aircraft.

  10. Norwegian is certainly not an ultra low cost carrier. It is hardly a budget airline. They offer way better service and comfort with no additional fees then any us domestic airline including free wifi in Europe.

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