Norwegian Air Shuttle Adds 787s, Long-Haul Routes
European low-cost airline Norwegian Air Shuttle is expanding its intercontinental route structure as it takes delivery of new Boeing 787 Dreamliners. On September 3 the carrier, based in Fornebu, Norway, announced service to three new destinations in the U.S., scheduled to start next spring. It plans to use the 787 on routes between Scandinavia and Los Angeles, Oakland and Orlando international airports.
The airline has faced early complications, however. On September 7, Norwegian grounded one of its two delivered 787s at Oslo airport after the aircraft experienced an electrical problem. It flew passengers to Stockholm and then to Bangkok using a leased Airbus A340. The airline grounded its other 787 on September 2 at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport for four days due to an apparent brake issue. Both 787s returned to operation on September 9, according to a Norwegian spokesman.
The new destinations bring to five the number of U.S. cities that Norwegian expects to serve by next June. It already flies to New York and plans to begin service to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in November from Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen. The carrier advertised “introductory” one-way fares of $236 for the new U.S. destinations; it charges $185 for a new route connecting Copenhagen and New York that begins in February.
Norwegian said the lower operating cost of the Dreamliner compared with older aircraft is helping it extend its low-cost business model to long-haul operations. “We will always offer low fares but supply and demand also obviously comes into play,” the airline said in response to an AIN query. “With the new 787 Dreamliner, we will offer a product that none of the legacy carriers flying older aircraft are able to match.”
Norwegian ranks as the second largest airline in Scandinavia after SAS, and lays claim as the third largest low-cost carrier in Europe (after easyJet and Ryanair). In January last year it placed separate orders with Airbus and Boeing for a total of 222 new narrowbodies, including 100 Boeing 737 Max 8s, twenty two 737-800NGs and 100 Airbus A320neos. The carrier said the deals, worth $21.6 billion, amounted to the largest aircraft order in European history.
The airline made its first intercontinental flight from Oslo Gardermoen Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on May 30. It conducted flights from Stockholm to New York and Oslo to Bangkok over the next few days. Norwegian now operates six weekly flights between Scandinavia and New York and five between Scandinavia and Bangkok.
Norwegian started long-haul service using leased Airbus A340-300s. It took delivery of its first Dreamliner on June 28 and expects to receive two more this year. The carrier has ordered eight Dreamliners for delivery through 2015. It has configured the aircraft for 32 premium economy and 259 economy seats.