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