Norwegian Adds Paris-U.S. Flights as Expansion Takes Shapeby
Airline to serve New York, Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale
Cork-to-Boston route delayed pending U.S. approval, Kjos says
Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA will offer flights from Paris to three U.S. destinations this summer as the low-cost carrier adds a sixth hub for long-distance flights in Europe.
“Paris has a large leisure market, which makes it very attractive,” Chief Executive Officer Bjoern Kjos said in an interview. “There are a lot of cities we are not serving so far, and there will be plenty more to serve over the next few years.”
Norwegian plans to connect New York, Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with the French capital starting July 29. The carrier already offers flights from Bergen, Norway; Oslo; Stockholm; and Copenhagen, as well as from London’s Gatwick airport, to the U.S., the Caribbean and Bangkok.
The airline is pursuing one of the industry’s most ambitious growth plans, betting that its Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliners will enable the carrier to thrive in a long-distance market where other no-frills predecessors have failed. Norwegian next week will receive its first 787-9, which seats 354 passengers and is bigger than the 291-seat model now in service.
“Long-haul is today a small operation for us, but it is profitable on a year-around basis,” Kjos said. “By 2020, long-haul as measured by available seat kilometers will be much larger than our short-haul operations.”
Its Dreamliner fleet will swell to 21 next year from eight in 2015, with Barcelona and Rome as possible tourist magnets the carrier may start serving. A service connecting Cork in Ireland with Boston won’t start in May as planned, as the U.S. Transportation Department hasn’t yet certified the carrier’s Irish arm.
“We can’t sell tickets yet,” Kjos said. “We will begin as soon as practically possible once we have approval, but it will take four or five months to start the operation once we have that approval.”
Teaming up with EasyJet Plc or Ryanair Holdings Plc is still on the agenda, while no agreement has been struck. “Ryanair has 18 or so routes into Cork,” he said. “They can easily feed our Cork-to-Boston route. So we don’t need to set up a feeder network to Cork.”
The carrier may operate a mixed fleet of Boeing 737s and Airbus Group SE A320neo aircraft starting in 2018, as the Airbus is “an incredibly good aircraft,” Kjos said.