Analysis: Norwegian continues to forge ahead in the U.S.

Luca Zocche and Nick McGowan

Norwegian ushered a new era in the transatlantic aviation market on June 15th, 2017, when it commenced flights between Edinburgh, Scotland and Newburgh’s Stewart International Airport, a secondary international airport almost 70 miles from Manhattan. The airline has bet on two things — that travelers are willing to go further for cheaper fares, and that they’re willing to fly on aircraft that you’d typically see on short-haul routes, such as the Boeing 737-800 that the airline used to commence operations. And it seems to have worked. Within two weeks of the new route commencing, Norwegian had twelve new routes operating across the Atlantic, and the airline is continuing to forge ahead in the United States.

Next summer, Norwegian has already announced plans to increase frequencies on the Dublin – Newburgh/Stewart, NY; Shannon – Newburgh/Stewart, NY and Edinburgh – Providence, RI routes, with a total of almost 1000 weekly seats being added by the airline. In addition, the airline has introduced the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft on its transatlantic routes, which will reduce the number of seats that the airline has to block out on its flights due to weight restrictions. The aircraft in the fleet are the first of 110 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft to be added within the next 4+ years. While Norwegian made waves with this service, its more traditional wide-body transatlantic service is expanding as well.

Norwegian crew and Belfast International Airport employees celebrating the first flight from Belfast to Providence (Boston) and Newburgh/Stewart (New York) on Norwegian. Photo Credits: Norwegian

Norwegian, in a move of confidence, has already boosted its planned Chicago O’Hare – London Gatwick service from the originally planned four-times weekly service to a daily service, and its Los Angeles – London Gatwick service is being upgraded from a daily service to a nine-times weekly service. In addition, the airline announced in July that it will begin service between Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport and Denver starting next April, twice a week. Add on its planned three-times weekly service between Austin, Texas and London Gatwick next April, and its planned four-times weekly but now upgraded to daily service between Rome and Newark to start in November, and its narrow-body expansion, Norwegian is looking to add over 7,300 weekly seats to the transatlantic market.

With all these additions to its schedule and changes that it has been making, Norwegian has shown that it believes it can change the dynamics of the transatlantic market to favor its model. And it seems to be working; some examples include United canceling its Glasgow-Newark service for six months over the winter, and the airline instinctively starting service between Denver and London once again after Norwegian announced service earlier this year. Norwegian’s competitor in Ireland, Aer Lingus, has already begun to move towards a more “buy what you need” system with extra fees, similar to a low-cost carrier. While Aer Lingus believes this move could allow it to gain back lost customers to Norwegian and increase profits, its also possible that the airline could lose passengers looking to fly a full-service airline across the Atlantic. Only time will tell as Norwegian continues its expansion and its competitors react to Norwegian’s “golden age” of expansion.

Featured image by Norwegian.

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