Norwegian airline to offer ultra-cheap US to Rome flights

Norwegian Air Shuttle ups competition as low-cost carrier adds routes from US cities to Italian capital, further pressuring premium airlines on transatlantic routes.

Norwegian Air Shuttle will launch flights from three US cities to capital of Italy for as little as $189. Aas Erland / AFP
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Norwegian Air Shuttle on Wednesday announced plans to introduce flights from three US cities to Rome, increasing the competition US and European carriers face from low-cost rivals on transatlantic flights.

Introductory prices for the new routes to Rome’s Leonardo Da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport start in November at US$189 one way, taxes included. Nonstop flights for the same time period found on Google flights start at $2,694.

The flights, from airports in Newark, New Jersey, Los Angeles and Oakland, California, are the latest instance of low-cost carriers expanding their presence in Europe and the United States, and increasing pressure on their larger competitors to consider restricted cheaper fares and redesigned cabins to compete on routes across the Atlantic.

“Rome is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, and a favourite among Americans, so it was an obvious choice for us as we continue to expand our transatlantic presence,” said the Norwegian chief commercial officer Thomas Ramdahl.

“More US routes mean we will create more American jobs and offer American travellers even more affordable fares.”

The emphasis on creating American jobs is an important point for the budget Scandinavian carrier, which in December received long-awaited US approval from the outgoing Obama administration for its Irish subsidiary Norwegian Air International to operate routes across the Atlantic.

Airlines and labour groups in the US had asked the administration to deny the request, arguing that it would undermine wages and working standards.

US carriers and unions had hoped for a more hostile environment from the US president Donald Trump’s administration toward foreign competition on routes, but the administration has hinted towards an interest in foreign airlines’ use of American products and workers.

Service from Newark Liberty International Airport will launch on November 9. Los Angeles International Airport to Rome flights will begin on November 11, and flights from Oakland International Airport will begin in February 2018.

The carrier also announced on Wednesday plans to expand its service to the French Caribbean, launching nonstop service beginning in October to Guadeloupe and Martinique from Providence, Rhode Island’s TF Green Airport.

* Reuters