Norwegian airline says 35,000 tickets sold ahead of US flights
Norwegian Air International (NAI) has sold 35,000 tickets so far for flights between Ireland and the US east coast that are due to begin on July 1.
In February, after three years of delays, NAI was granted a licence by US authorities allowing it to launch the low cost, direct transatlantic routes between Ireland and American cities including Providence, near Boston, and New York.
Norwegian has vowed to revolutionise transatlantic travel with one-way flights from €69 on flights from Dublin, Cork and Shannon to non-hub airports in New York and Providence, starting from July 1.
Yesterday, the CEO of Norwegian, Bjorn Kjos, said sales had been rapid since the routes were announced.
"We've never seen sold that many tickets in such a short time," Mr Kjos said.
So far 35,000 tickets have been booked for the flights by US and Irish-based travellers, he said.
NAI will take delivery of the new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft that will service the Irish routes next month.
The planes will be based in the US, servicing the transatlantic routes, he said.
NAI will operate 12 flights weekly from Dublin to Boston/Providence and New York, four flights weekly from Shannon to Boston/Providence and New York as well as three departures weekly from Cork to Boston/Providence.
The airline received an air operator's certificate from the Irish Aviation Authority in 2014, and has a base here with 85 staff, in addition to headquarters in Norway and the UK.
This allows the company, which is based outside the EU, to operate freely across Europe and now the Atlantic.
The structure will allow Norwegian to continue to operate after Brexit, Bjorn Kjos said, but he predicted disruption for UK-headquartered operators, particularly on internal EU routes.
NAI established its operations in Dublin to benefit from the Open Skies agreement that exists between the United States and the European Union.
It enables any airline based in the EU to fly from any location in the EU to any location in the US, and vice versa.
With the US flights as good as up and running, NAI has agreed a deal that will see Ryanair feed passengers to its flights from September.
Bjorn Kjos said funnelling passengers via Ryanair to its transatlantic routes will be the key benefit of the agreement for NAI.
Technical details of the agreement, such as ticketing, are still being hammered out, he said.