Friday 23 August 2019

Low-cost airline confirms transatlantic flights from $69 each-way

Norwegian would...

Norwegian. Photo: Deposit
Cork Airport. Photo: Fáilte Ireland/Andrew Bradley

Hazel Plush

Norwegian has announced plans to fly from Britain to the US from $69, reducing its current prices by more than 50pc.

The low-cost airline, which has been granted permission to fly direct from Cork to the US, is to offer the fares from summer 2017.

They will be the cheapest transatlantic tickets on the market.

Bjorn Kjos, chief executive of the Oslo-based airline, said that Norwegian will offer the low prices on flights from Edinburgh to New York on board its six new Boeing 737MAX aircraft. The airline will take delivery of the aircraft in April, and flights will commence a few months later.

“Our planes are very, very fuel efficient,” Kjos said of the Boeing 737MAX models. “We have a totally different set up to other airlines. The Boeing 737MAX has a very modern engine, which means it can go for a longer distance.”

Norwegian has yet to confirm start dates and prices for its forthcoming Cork - Boston route, though they are expected by summer 2017.

Cork Airport. Photo: Fáilte Ireland/Andrew Bradley
Cork Airport. Photo: Fáilte Ireland/Andrew Bradley

Niall MacCarthy, Cork Airport's MD, has previously said he thinks fares will start with some "lead-in special offers around the $69 mark."

Norwegian also plans to cut prices by flying to smaller, out-of-town airports in New York state, rather than JFK.

“We’ll also be flying to secondary airports in New York,” said Kjos. “That means we don’t pay as much and can charge cheaper fares”.

The airline has not yet announced which New York airport will be the flights’ final destination, but it already flies to Newark from the UK.

Norwegian has also been looking at Stewart International Airport, about 70 miles north of Manhattan, and smaller airports close to Boston, including Portsmouth, Providence and Hartford (already served by Aer Lingus), according to reports.

Norwegian, which is Europe's third-largest low-cost carrier, is also expected to launch flights between Cork and New York in the near future.

Meanwhile, in the UK, it looks like the airline will be making further savings by not basing its new fleet in London. Although Norwegian has a hub at Gatwick Airport, the new low-cost flights will only be available from Edinburgh.

Norwegian, which commenced transatlantic flights in 2014, currently operates flights from Gatwick to New York with prices starting from £125/€147 one-way.

It also offers direct services to Florida, San Francisco and Los Angeles, and last month launched flights to Las Vegas for less than £400/€469 return.

Extra costs - buyer beware

Norwegian, along with other airlines offering low-cost long-haul travel, such as Iceland's WOW air, uses headline-grabbing fares to attract customers, but passengers are faced with extra costs for the likes of hold luggage and seat selection.

Attempting to book a £179/€210 Norwegian flight from London Gatwick to Las Vegas, we found that tickets at the base cost were available, but checked baggage, a meal on board or a seat reservation would cost a further £50/€59 each way.

But the airline is certainly more than a  match for traditional carriers on price, and its continued expansion suggests it is paying off with passengers.

Kjos said that Norwegian’s long-haul flights are typically 95 per cent full, and next year it will increase the number of flights from London to the US by 55 per cent in response to “huge” demand from passengers.

“Everyone said would low cost long-haul work. But passengers have shown that is demand there”, said Kjos.

- Additional reporting by Pól Ó Conghaile

Read more:

World's best airlines revealed, but how do Ryanair and Aer Lingus rank? Norwegian eyes expansion as transatlantic flights cleared

Editors Choice

Also in Life