Norwegian Adding Transatlantic Flights To Canada In 2019

Norwegian has been expanding nicely lately, and clearly has the major global carriers worried, given that both British Airways and Lufthansa are interested in acquiring them.

While they have a fleet of Boeing 787s that they use for longhaul flights, one of the other interesting things they’ve done is add Boeing 737 MAX transatlantic flights to secondary transatlantic markets. For example, we’ve seen them operate flights from Hartford, Providence, and Stewart. It looks like this concept is now expanding to Canada.

Norwegian will be launching daily nonstop flights between Dublin and Toronto Hamilton Airport as of March 31, 2019. Hamilton is nearly 100km from Toronto, so it’s about a 90 minute drive.

This new flight will operate with the following schedule:

Dublin to Hamilton departing 2:40PM arriving 5:25PM
Hamilton to Toronto departing 7:45PM arriving 7:30AM (+1 day)

The airline will use 189 seat Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft for the service, with the flights being blocked at 7hr45min westbound and 6hr45min eastbound. Fares start at 189EUR one-way, and roundtrip fares start at 368EUR (~427USD).

Norwegian is trying some innovative things, and I think many of their 787 services have given traditional network carriers good competition. For example, Norwegian has been able to drive down fares even further in saturated markets, like New York to Paris and Los Angeles to London, for example.

But these 737 MAX flights are a different story. They’re flying to secondary markets. This would be great for someone who lives in Hamilton, for example, given that there’s not otherwise transatlantic service. However, they’re targeting greater Toronto, and I’m not convinced these fares are low enough to warrant the inconvenience for most travelers.

Transatlantic fares on network carriers are cheap at the moment, so is there still room for this type of service?

For example, I see a roundtrip Air Canada ticket from Toronto to Dublin for 500USD (and this is Air Canada mainline, not Rouge).

Meanwhile the cheapest ticket on Norwegian for the same dates is over 510USD, so it’s more expensive, and includes almost nothing (no bags, food, drinks, etc.).

I commend Norwegian for their creativity, and for trying new things. They’ve added transatlantic service in a unique way. The problem is that based on what I’ve heard their load factors aren’t great, and in several cases we’ve seen Norwegian cut routes. Admittedly there’s going to be some trial and error involved here no matter what, so they should hardly be criticized for that. But I do still question the overall strategy here.

Norwegian continues to lose money, though their primary focus is on market share rather than profitability, because they know that’s what will scare their competitors, and make them a more attractive acquisition target. Or something.

What do you make of Norwegian’s Boeing 737 MAX transatlantic expansion strategy?

Comments

  1. “Hamilton to Toronto departing 7:45PM arriving 7:30AM (+1 day)”

    So what is the flight distance YHM-YYZ? Hardly seems worth it to pick up more passengers at Pearson.

  2. You’re forgetting that this also targets people from the Buffalo and Niagara region. The QEW traffic can be a nightmare between Hamilton and Toronto so this is a blessing for anyone from Buffalo looking to get to Dublin and beyond for cheap.

  3. At this prices, it’s a useless option. Parking alone in Hamilton would cost the difference between them and anyone else. I’ve been hoping for flights out of Hamilton for a long time, since many of us Canajuns go to buffalo (twice the distance plus a border crossing) to save money. But at this prices, I’d rather fly out of yyz.
    Plus it’s too early of a departure time. Travel times to Hamilton are terrible since the highway that goes there is always very congested. One would need to leave extra early thus killing a whole afternoon. From yyz I can take a later time flight, work a full day and have much less congestion, besides many more transit options.

  4. Buffalo NY is only 73 miles to Hamilton. Round trip economy fares from BUF to DUB on those same dates is $1200.

    I’d look at this option if I lived in western NY.

  5. There are huge problems with this because unlike other “secondary” airports are no public transport links to downtown Toronto – I feel sorry if people book this thinking they can take a nice convenient bus to Toronto when they arrive.

  6. People travelling from YHM or from reasonable proximity might find this attractive. Europeans flying to Canada will find the limited options to get anywhere from the airport shocking. Transit? Not so much.

    Frankly, I was surprised that YHM is an international airport. It seems all their international flights are seasonal routes to the US and Caribbean.

    It will be interesting to see if there’s enough business to make this route viable.

  7. Was excited when I saw the route earlier before being disappointed when I saw the price. I travel to Buffalo from Dublin about once a year, flying to Toronto and staying there a few days before going down.

    Would rather pay slightly more and a longer drive to Buffalo than to use this.

  8. Incidentally, there is a bug with the GDPR consent. I find if I forget to check the consent box, I get an error message and have to go back to check it. Fine. But the error flag is not cleared by checking the box on the second try, so I just get the error message again instead of my comment being posted.

    It would be helpful to have the consent box appear before the “Post Comment” button rather than after.

  9. @Lucky I know you are focused on luxury travel but if you would consider reviewing some of the “premium” economy products on these transatlantic LCCs and/or some of the mainline carriers I think your readers would be very interested. Some of the Y+ is starting to look like what F/J used to look like in the 90s.

  10. You should have James research and do an article about Canadian aviation protectionism. I can’t believe this is Norwegian’s only European flight from Canada. That is crazy compared to how they have expanded in the US.

  11. @Chub, you’re right and that was one of my favorite trip reports in recent memory!! @Lucky can you handle 7-10 hours in premium economy in the name of “research” and entertaining your readers? And in all seriousness there are times when I’ve looked seriously at buying premium economy vs a pricey redemption in F or J so I’d really like to know from a reviewer I trust how it is. Would love to see the new AA product, for example.

  12. @Nawaid Ladak

    No jets allowed at YTZ. They tried and failed to get an exception for the C-Series.

  13. I think you mean Hamilton to Dublin? Or does the flight do a stop at YYZ on its way back?

    Also, there is no “Toronto Hamilton” airport. It’s called “John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport”, and while it’s close to Toronto, it doesn’t brand itself as such.

  14. I don’t think they are trying to attract people from Toronto. There are a lot of people west of Hamilton (Waterloo Region, London). The Toronto reference is likely to confuse Europeans into thinking Hamilton is an alternate Toronto airport.

  15. I will probably never fly Norwegian 787 at night, even in the almost ok premium cabin (maybe daytime eastbound). But these 737 planes are horribel and I avoid them also for flights inside Europe if there are options.
    The best thing with Norwegian is that they cut the prices for the competitors, but since they are almost unable to help in irregularitys I never fly them any longer

  16. Wait, nearly 8 hours in a 787 Max? From the reports I’ve read, and the photos I’ve seen, I wouldn’t want to fly over 2 hours, if at all, on this plane. But TATL? Just say NO! 🙁

  17. YHM is seeing a lot more LCC domestic and sun destination flights, plus cargo, so I’m not surprised to see a TATL LCC flying there. Plus, there’s a big market of people west of Toronto proper for whom YHM is a fine choice. And while I’d avoid a 737 long haul like the plague, there are many who won’t if the price is right. On that front it looks like they have work to do. And if they do call it Toronto Hamilton airport, they should be taken to the woodshed. It’s in the middle of nowhere and is an easy 90 minutes plus drive from Toronto if there’s traffic. In some parts of Europe that would get you clear across the country

  18. Air Canada is already operating a daily 737 Max 8 flight out of Heathrow. I was quite surprised to see a Air Canada 737 departing Heathrow and had to check that it was indeed a scheduled service.

    After checking the flight, I googled the cabin of AC’s 737 Max and I was shocked. People pay good money to travel in a nice US domestic F seat across the pond?

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