Norse Atlantic Airways offers budget flights from Gatwick to New York

Norse hopes to succeed where Norwegian Air failed

A Norse Atlantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft parked at Oslo Airport, Norway. Reuters
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Norse Atlantic Airways has begun selling tickets for flights between London and New York as the budget carrier seeks to take market share on one of the world's busiest long-haul routes.

Round-trip fares for journeys between London's Gatwick and John F Kennedy International Airport will start at £255 ($322), including taxes, the airline said. Daily flights on the route begin on August 12 using Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

Norse Atlantic will offer a daily service, with other US destinations to be announced soon, the company said.

The airline, which has its maiden flight scheduled for Oslo-New York on June 14, hopes to succeed where Norwegian Air failed, offering transatlantic flights at budget rates after securing cheap leases during the pandemic.

It operates a fleet of 15 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, although four of the aircraft are currently on sub-lease to Spain's Air Europa.

While the favourable terms of its leases and the fuel efficiency of its modern aircraft should give it an edge on cost, the question is whether it can fill the planes and generate enough revenue to be profitable.

"It is always a bit of a risk when you are in the airline business, but we think it's a pretty good timing," chief executive Bjoern Tore Larsen told Reuters.

Mr Larsen, an aviation enthusiast and the company's biggest shareholder, made his fortune in the shipping industry and controls ship management group OSM Maritime.

The United States is his personal favourite travel destination, and he believes there is a massive demand for budget travel between Europe and North America.

"We are pretty sure we will fill these aircraft with Americans going to Europe and Europeans going to America," he said.

Norwegian operated transatlantic flights with low fares but axed its long-haul operations in January 2021 after heavy losses.

The company was founded by Bjorn Kjos, who resigned as chief executive in July 2019 and holds a minority stake in Norse.

Mr Larsen said: "We are very pleased to now be able to welcome customers looking to book great value flights between London Gatwick and New York JFK.

"Customers now have an affordable option allowing them to book a last-minute trip or a holiday of a lifetime with an airline that offers choice and flexibility."

The launch of Norse flights from Gatwick will be a major boost for the West Sussex airport, which has been badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

It closed one of its two terminals between June 2020 and March because of the collapse in passenger numbers.

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: "We are delighted to welcome Norse Atlantic Airways to Gatwick.

"It's always great to see a new tail on the airfield, but the arrival of a new airline following the turbulent past two years for the industry, and one that will be offering fantastic long-haul routes across the Atlantic, is particularly exciting news.

"Passengers across London and the South East will now be able to benefit from another transatlantic service from Gatwick, with Norse offering excellent value for money for those flying out for a dream holiday, or important business trip, to New York, one of the world's most famous and dynamic cities."

Feeder network

As a pure long-haul player, Norse Atlantic lacks a feeder service from regional connections, which could make it hard to sell seats beyond top routes such as London-New York, said James Halstead, managing partner at consultancy Aviation Strategy.

"Very few [long-haul] routes around the world survive on pure O&D traffic," Halstead said, referring to traffic from a single origin to a single destination.

Norwegian Air is, however, in talks with Norse to see whether schedules could align for it to act as a feeder service, Norwegian Air's chief executive Geir Karlsen said.

"If we can collaborate on some front on the destinations, then we are happy to do so," he said.

Mr Larsen said he expected to introduce flights from Paris to the United States this summer.

Updated: May 29, 2022, 4:54 AM
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