||NORWEGIAN AIR INTERNATIONAL
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||+47 67 58 30 01
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NAI-2014-11 - TO BANGKOK-A
NAI-2014-11 - TO BANGKOK-B
Formed and started operations in 2013: Long haul subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG). International, scheduled & charter, passenger & cargo jet airplane services.
NO-1330 Fornebu, Norway
The Kingdom of Norway was established in 1814, it covers an area of 32,878 sq km, its population is 4.5 million, its capital city is Oslo, and its official language is Norwegian.
Norway is on top in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita and spending power, and Norwegians are amongst the most frequent travellers in the world, both for business and private purposes. Oslo is a significant business destination and the natural starting point for exploring Scandinavia’s world famous tourist attractions.
December 2013: Norwegian Air International ((IATA) Code: DU, (ICAO) Code: NLH, based at Oslo Gardermoen) (NAI) has hit back at a coalition of American interests that collectively objected to its application to the USA Department of Transportation for an exemption and a foreign air carrier permit under the (EU) - (USA) "Open Skies" treaty. In a statement issued to foreigner.no, (NWG) labelled claims by the Air Line Pilots’ Association (ALPA), the Transportation Trades Department (AFL)-(CIO) (TTD) union, as well as United Airlines (UAL), American Airlines (AAL), and Delta Air Lines (DAL), that its plans to acquire an Irish Air Operators Certificate (AOC) for the sole purpose of circumventing strict Norwegian labor laws, as false and misleading. The Americans had claimed that by using a Flag of Convenience to dramatically lower labor costs, (NWG) would be undercutting USA carriers and their employees that serve those same markets, by as much as 50%. (NWG) refuted these claims stating that “(ALPA) and several USA competitors’ recent allegations made about Norwegian (NWG) are false and misleading. (NWG) offers low fares, industry-leading service, and point-to-point routes between the USA and Europe. This has not been well received by competitors who have dominated the market with expensive fares for decades.” (ALPA) had also claimed that (NWG)'s flight crew (FC)s will work under individual employment contracts that are governed by Singapore law and that have wages and working conditions substantially inferior to those of (NWG)'s Norway-based pilots (FC)." (NWG) refuted this noting that it "always follows the rules and regulations in all markets they operate in while simultaneously "offering competitive wages and conditions to all crew, regardless of crew base.” Summing up its defence, (NWG) said: "The trans-Atlantic market has always been dominated by strong airline alliances that advocate expensive fares. (NWG) adapts to the market opportunities offered by the "Open Skies" Agreement.”
(NWG)/(NAI) plans to open several new European and transatlantic routes from the airport in 2014, and the partnership will enable much closer collaboration between the two parties on route development and marketing.
The commercial agreement comes on the heels of the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) proposed endorsement of Gatwick’s approach to create commercial arrangements with its airlines. Gatwick’s commitments framework reduces the regulatory burden for both parties, while at the same time allowing the airport to tailor services and charges for airlines in return for growth commitments.
London Gatwick (CEO), Stewart Wingate said: “This partnership with Norwegian (NWG)/(NAI) is a landmark in London Gatwick’s history. Four years after the end of the (BAA) monopoly at Gatwick, this deal marks the start of a new era for passengers bringing more competition to the aviation market. This partnership deal also shows the shared vision and commitment both (NWG)/(NAI) and Gatwick have for London and the South East (which is the largest, most exciting and vibrant travel market in the world). That commitment extends to (NWG)/(NAI)’s support for Gatwick’s need to build an additional runway by the mid-2020s.”
(NWG) moved from Stansted to Gatwick in 2009 and now has four airplanes based there, with a further two planned for summer 2014. One of the fastest-growing airlines at the airport, it and (NAI) will rank among Gatwick’s top four airlines when it implements its 2014 expansion plans.
Norwegian (NWG), the third largest low cost carrier (LCC) in Europe, commenced three services to Fort Lauderdale, Florida (FLL), WITH (NAI) making its second destination in the USA. (NAI) is now operating a total of five routes to the USA market, with the longest sector being the new 7,976 km service from Stockholm Arlanda (ARN). All three new services (from Copenhagen (CPH), Oslo Gardermoen (OSL) and Stockholm Arlanda (ARN)) are operated twice-weekly, utilizing 291-seat 787-800s of (NWG)’s long-haul subsidiary (NAI), and faces no direct competition from other carriers.
In the last 12 months, (NWG)/(NAI) has carried more than >20 million passengers (at an average load factor of 78.2% LF), firmly establishing (NWG) as Europe’s third largest (LCC). In recent weeks, as described above, (NWG) has announced expansion plans at a number of Spanish airports (Barcelona and Madrid), while long-haul operations by (NAI) to its second USA destination (Fort Lauderdale).
(NWG)/NAI) has reached an agreement to begin supporting its line maintenance operations with iPad applications, Boeing (TBC) said on December 16.
Under the agreement, Norwegian (NWG)/(NAI) will implement (TBC)'s new suite of iPad-based mobile maintenance applications for its fleet of 737s. The iPads will be used by (NWG)/(NAI) Maintenance Technicians for their back-end maintenance planning system for real-time access to parts inventory listings, maintenance troubleshooting and operations decisions.
"Norwegian (NWG)/(NAI) clearly recognizes the value in efficiencies gained by putting real-time information in the hands of their maintenance crews at the airplane," said John Maggiore, Director Fleet & Maintenance Solutions at Boeing Digital Aviation.
Boeing (TBC) recently launched its mobile maintenance applications at the Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) Europe conference in London, based on extensive input from several airlines.
"Our maintenance technicians (MT)s are very excited to be able to use these new applications," said Espen Hartsang, lead mechanic at Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG). "This will make our jobs much easier. Now we will have real-time mobile access to all the information we need, so we can improve our maintenance turn times and keep our airplanes flying safely."
(NAI) will acquire two Boeing 787-9s (its first of the type) and is seeking to further expand its fleet with the 787-9 version to bolster new long-haul operations. The new airplanes are being acquired from new York-based lessor MG Aviation and are due to enter service in the first quarter of 2016.
(NAI) currently has three 787-8s in operation, with five more due to be delivered (four next year and one in 2015). The new 787-9s will take the fleet to 10.
A seat configuration has not yet been decided for the (NAI) airplane, but the 787-9 can typically carry around +20% more passengers than the 787-8 version.
The acquisition does not mean (NAI) is looking to switch all future orders to the larger variant, spokesman Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen said. With delivery positions for both versions heavily booked up, (NAI) had taken the opportunity to snap up the pair of 787-9s when they became available.
He said the eventual total size of the 787 fleet had not yet been decided: “We haven’t set a particular number. However, to be a global player, we need a fleet larger than the 10 we will now have. We’re also looking to acquire more 787-8s.”
(NAI) began long-haul operations earlier this year, flying to New York and Bangkok, with services to three further USA destinations to be introduced in 2014. (NAI) announced that its latest 787 sector will be a weekly seasonal route between Bergen and New York (JFK), from May 3 to September 27, 2014.
“We’re continuously expanding our route network,” Sandaker-Neilsen said. (NWG) has previously said it plans to start operating long-haul services out of its new bases at London Gatwick and Barcelona.
“In order to run a competitive long-haul operation, we are dependent on brand new, cost-efficient airplanes. I´m very satisfied to have secured our first two 787-9 Dreamliners,” (NAI)’s (CEO), Bjørn Kjos added.
Fast-expanding Norwegian (NAI) will launch a new flight from New York (JFK) to Bergen in Norway, with a launch fare of $178. (NAI) says it is the first time in the past 10 years that the route has been operated with a direct service. The seasonal service will be operated once a week from May 9 to September 27.
The launch fare is on sale now. (NWG) (CEO), Bjørn Kjos said (NAI) hoped Americans would take up the service. “New York - Bergen has been a long-awaited route and I’m very happy to announce that for the first time in decades, the USA and Bergen will get its first direct connection. (NAI)’s routes between Scandinavia and New York have been very well received, and I am looking forward to welcoming even more Americans on board our brand new 787 Dreamliners on our non-stop service to Bergen,” said Kjos.
January 2014: (NWG)/(NAI) is about to open its first USA crew base (FC & CA), as it prepares to step up transatlantic flights by its new long-haul division, Norwegian Air International (NAI), the long haul division of Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG). The first base in New York will open “soon,” while one in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, would be operational in the first quarter.
Around 170 cabin crew (CA) have been recruited in the two cities; (NAI) is also encouraging USA pilots (FC) to join its workforce.
(NAI) is expanding its fleet of Boeing 787s over the next few years and plans to expand its long-haul network to include 14 routes between Europe and the USA in 2014. It also plans to operate transatlantic flights from London Gatwick this year.
February 2014: Flight attendants (CA) and pilots (FC) from the USA and Norway are joining forces in a bid to ensure that Norwegian Air International (NAI), the Irish-based, long-haul subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG), does not “bypass international labor laws” when it comes to recruiting crew (FC & CA).
Norwegian Air International (NAI), the long-haul division of Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG), has gained an air operator’s certificate (AOC) from Irish regulatory authorities. The move to apply for an Irish (AOC) (a country not served by (NWG)/(NAI)) has been criticized by trade unions, which have accused (NAI) of shopping around for “flag of convenience” status to avoid employing staff under Norway’s stringent social legislation. Norwegian (NAI) denies this.
(NAI) will base its managerial and mandatory regulatory functions in Dublin, with its growing long-haul fleet of Boeing 787s governed by Irish law. (NAI) said it had established its long-haul operation in Ireland for several reasons. “The main reason is access to future traffic rights to and from the European Union [EU]. Norwegian (NWG)/(NAI) has more than >260 airplanes on order and the route network will expand rapidly in the years to come.” Norway is not a European Union (EU) member-state.
“Another important reason for choosing Ireland, and not another country within the (EU) (though several other European countries (including the UK and Sweden) were considered), is because Ireland has decided to fully adopt the Cape Town Convention, which provides Norwegian (NAI) with better financing conditions. “Furthermore, (NAI)’s establishment in Ireland does not affect export guarantees in connection with our financing.”
(NAI) reiterated its argument that it had not chosen Ireland because the country had specific rules and regulations that allowed the use of American or Asian crew (FC & CA), as some politicians and unions had claimed. “The fact is that (NAI) could have based its long-haul company in any other European country and still use American and Asian crew, the way several other European airlines have been operating for years. The only exception is Norway and partly Denmark, who so far have opted to keep outdated special rules within this area.”
Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG) has inked an accord with International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) (ILF) to lease four Boeing 787-9s for its long-haul subsidiary, Norwegian Air International (NAI).
(NAI) currently has four 787-8s in its fleet with four more 787-8s on firm order. It has also two 787-9s on order for delivery in the 2016 first quarter. The 787-9s it will lease from (ILFC) will be delivered in 2017 and 2018. All told, (NAI) is now slated to have 14 787 Dreamliners in its fleet by the end of 2018. “In order to run a competitive long-haul operation, we are dependent on brand new, cost-efficient airplanes,” (NAI) (CEO), Bjørn Kjos said. “I’m very satisfied to have secured an additional four 787-9 Dreamliners.”
(NAI) has faced a series of glitches and teething troubles with its 787s, the first of which was delivered in June 2013, and Boeing (TBC) has dispatched maintenance personnel to help improve the efficiency of (NAI)'s 787-8s. (NAI) noted the 787-9 will seat up to +20% more passengers than the 787-8.
Monarch (MON) Aircraft Engineering (MAEL) has been selected by Boeing (TBC) to provide GoldCare support to Norwegian Air International (NAI)’s Boeing 787s at London Gatwick Airport. (MAEL) will start support in the second quarter of 2014 with the first of four 787s entering short-haul flying from Gatwick.
March 2014: Norwegian Air International (NAI) has launched 2x-weekly Stockholm Arlanda - Los Angeles service increasing to 3x-weekly from April 30. (NAI) will also launch 2x-weekly, Stockholm Arlanda - Oakland service from May 3. Both services will be operated with Boeing 787s.
April 2014: Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG) reported a net profit of +NOK322 million/+$54 million for the financial year ended December 31, 2013, down from +NOK457 million for the previous year.
It was the seventh consecutive year of profit for (NWG), but Managing Director & (CEO), Bjørn Kjos said (NWG) “had hoped to report better margins,” especially in view of a -8% reduction in unit cost. “Profit was set back by teething problems with our [Boeing 787] Dreamliner airplanes, while a warm and sunny Nordic summer reduced bookings in the important months of July and August,” Kjos said. “Similarly, profits were hampered by capacity investment and increased competitive pressure during the second half of 2013.”
Passenger numbers for the year were up to 20.7 million from 17.7 the previous year, and operating revenue climbed to NOK15.6 billion from NOK12.9 billion year-over-year. Operating profit more than doubled, climbing to almost +NOK970 million from +NOK403 during the previous 12 months. Capacity (ASK)s were up to 34.3 million from just shy of 26 billion, and traffic (RPK)s were also up, to 26.9 billion from 20.4 billion for the previous financial year.
Airplane numbers increased from 68 at year-end 2012 to 85 at the end of 2013, and load factor reflected this increase in capacity, falling slightly from 78.5% LF in 2012 to 78.3% LF last year.
Kjos said there would “also be considerable capacity investment in 2014,” with (ASK)s expected to increase +40% during the current year, including long-haul (NAI) operations. Short-haul capacity increases will be largely achieved through the addition of further 737-800 airplanes to the fleet, and through increasing the average sector length.
By the end of 2014, (NWG) will have a fleet of seven Boeing 787s, and will have retired all leased 737-300s and the oldest 737-800, “helping us both to reduce unit costs and reduce capacity growth in the seasonally slower months,” Kjos said.
Passenger demand and advance bookings were “satisfactory” for the first quarter of 2014 and (NWG) said it would continue to increase its competitive power “through continuous cost efficiency, and from introducing larger airplanes with a lower operating cost.” And, despite technical and operational issues related to the launch of long-haul operations, (NWG)’s long-haul aspirations had “developed according to plan,” (NWG) said. “Going forward, the company expects increased competitive pressure in the Nordic market place.”
Norwegian Air International ((IATA) Code: DU, (IATA) Code: nlh - (Callsign - NORSTAR) (NAI), the long-haul division of Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG), is expecting to receive approval from the USA and the European Union (EU) to launch international services from London’s Gatwick (LGW) Airport in July.
Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG) has warned it may shelve plans for its Irish-based international subsidiary, Norwegian Air International (NAI) and postpone orders for 20 Boeing 787s if USA approval for planned transatlantic operations is not granted.
787-808 (34796, EI-LNE "Roald Amundsen - Norwegian Explorer"), delivery.
May 2014: Norwegian (NWG)/(NAI) expanded its presence in the USA with two new routes, all of which are operated utilizing its 291-seat 787-8s. On May 2nd, (NAI) inaugurated the 5,618 km sector from New York (JFK) to Bergen (BGO) that will be served weekly (Fridays). On May 3rd, (NAI) launched twice-weekly flights (Tuesdays and Saturdays) on the 8,608 km route from Stockholm Arlanda (ARN) to Oakland, California (OAK). No other carrier serves these two airport pairs.
Three leading flight attendants’ (CA)'s unions have joined forces to lobby the USA Department of Transportation (DOT) to deny Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) application for a foreign air carrier permit.
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) are claiming (NAI) is resorting to “unfair labor practices” in its “mission to enter the USA aviation market.”
In a joint statement, the unions said (NAI)’s business plan was “crafted to circumvent worker protections by evading international labor laws, creating unfair competition with (EU) and USA carriers, and threatening to degrade labor standards both in the USA and in Europe.”
(AFA) International President, Veda Shook said: “Competition and growth are essential to our industry, but we must remain dedicated to promoting strong labor standards. Skirting international laws in order to gain unfair advantage cannot be tolerated. We call on Secretary [Anthony] Foxx to deny (NAI)’s current application, before such labor practices become the norm in international aviation, triggering a race to the bottom.”
(ETF) Civil Aviation Political Secretary, François Ballestero said: “The attempt of Norwegian Air International (NAI) to import cheap labor from Asia by employing non-European cabin crew (CA) on its long-haul routes, is an attack on working conditions of the existing workers. The (ETF) is committed to fight against social dumping and we urge the (DOT) to put an end to these unfair practices.”
(ITF) Civil Aviation Secretary, Gabriel Mocho Rodriguez added: “The practice of establishing subsidiaries and registering vessels under flags of convenience, in order to avoid oversight and slash costs, has long been a feature of the maritime industry. The results are well known: lower safety standards, sometimes shocking working conditions, little protection for workers. For decades, we have been warning that the "flags of convenience" model could be copied in the aviation sector. Just last month, our cabin crew (CA) committee decisively rejected the outsourcing and flagging out practices of (NAI). The (AFA) together with the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM], the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU], and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA], supported that resolve and are actively lobbying the USA government and urging it to prevent those unacceptable practices being imported into the USA. The (ITF) will continue to support their effort.”
June 2014: Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG) has opened a new base in Madrid, (NWG)’s sixth in Spain. (NWG) also has bases in Barcelona, Alicante, Malaga, Las Palmas, and Tenerife, as well as in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the UK, the USA, and Thailand.
Two Boeing 737-800 airplanes will be based in Madrid and around 75 pilots (FC) and cabin crew (CA) have been recruited to the base.
(NWG) (CEO), Bjørn Kjos said: “There is a great demand for direct flights between the Spanish capital and major cities in Europe.”
This week also marks a year since Norwegian (NWG) began operating services between Scandinavia and the USA. Introducing its Boeing 787 Dreamliners on routes to New York, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, the airline has carried 200,000 passengers to the USA over the past year.
And as it continues to lobby for USA approval for its new Dublin-based subsidiary, Norwegian Air International (NAI) to launch services to the USA, the airline has again hit back at “competitors and the unions” for using what it describes as “foul play trying to stop Norwegian (NWG)/(NAI).”
(NWG) believes flights between the USA and Europe “have traditionally been way too expensive” and that “competition on intercontinental flights is long overdue.” So in May 2013, it launched transatlantic 787 Dreamliner flights starting at $99 one way.
However, (NWG) accuses the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA), other labor unions and several USA carriers of making “a number of false and misleading allegations” about Norwegian in the media, to the USA Department of Transportation and members of Congress in “a frantic attempt at blocking competition.”
Norwegian said it “always follows the rules and regulations in all the markets we operate, offering competitive wages and conditions.” It employs more than >300 American cabin crew (CA) in Fort Lauderdale and New York, and is recruiting New York-based pilots (FC) for its 787 Dreamliner operation.
(NWG) also said it is fully compliant with European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) safety standards (EASA), is wholly privately owned, and “has never received any government subsidies.” It also said it is not hostile to unions and “meets all the legal and regulatory requirements in the "open skies" agreement between the USA and the (EU).”
“The legacy carriers did everything in their power to stop low-cost carriers (LCC)s like Southwest Airlines (SWA) to enter the domestic skies. Now history is repeating itself as an airline from Norway is taking on the big guys in order to offer everyone affordable flights across the Atlantic. If the authorities listen to the legacy carriers and the unions, the losers will be customers who will be left with no other option than airlines that offer astronomic fares and poor in-flight service. The American people deserve to have a choice.”
Later, however, the USA House of Representatives adopted an amendment that could potentially de-rail Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) bid to launch services between London Gatwick (LGW) Airport and the USA in July.
The amendment, proposed by Congressmen, Peter DeFazio and Lynn Westmoreland, would prohibit the USA Department of Transportation (DOT) from using funds included in the Transportation, Housing & Urban Development Appropriations Act to approve a new foreign air carrier permit application, unless it complies with protections included in the (USA) - (EU) "open skies" agreement.
DeFazio said the amendment would “help protect American jobs from unfair competition by (NAI) (which plans to register its airplanes in Ireland, a country with less stringent labor laws and regulations) and outsource pilots (FC) and cabin crew (CA) to countries with a cheaper, less experienced workforce, which will undermine safety.”
DeFazio said (NAI)’s operating model directly violates the (USA) - (EU) "open skies" agreement, and would allow the airline to “drastically undercut USA carriers, who are following USA regulations,” threatening the “competitive balance of the transatlantic aviation marketplace.”
(NAI)'s parent company, Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG) denied the claims and said a decision on its application is “long overdue.” (NWG) said: “Norwegian meets all the legal and regulatory requirements in the "open skies" agreement between the USA and the (EU). The amendment is anti-competitive and favors entrenched airline monopolies and political interests above the needs of consumers and the USA economy. We remain confident that the (DOT) will approve our application. We also believe the department will put the needs of American workers and consumers above the narrow agenda of monopolistic airlines and unions, that have produced a series of false and misleading statements about Norwegian.”
The (DOT) has final authority over whether to approve (NAI)’s application, but Ed Wytkind, President of the Transportation Trades Department within the (AFL)-(CIO), argued: “Saying yes to (NAI) will open the floodgates to a Wal-Mart-style race to the bottom in the global airline industry, ultimately jeopardizing tens of thousands of middle-class jobs while again failing to enforce and properly implement trade agreements. Rejecting Norwegian Air’s gambit will send a clear message that the USA has zero tolerance for operating schemes that violate trade agreements, sacrifice good jobs, and leave airlines that play by the rules, both here and in Europe, at a competitive disadvantage.”
The USA Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) also welcomed the passing of the amendment and urged the USA Senate to support the USA House position.
Norwegian (NWG) said: “If the authorities listen to the legacy carriers and the unions, the losers will be customers, who will be left with no other option than airlines that offer astronomic fares and poor in-flight service.”
July 2014: Norwegian (NWG)/(NAI) started its long-haul operations from London Gatwick (LGW) this month, with the launch of three new routes in the USA – to Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK) and Fort Lauderdale (FLL). The (LAX) route started on July 2nd, followed the next day by (JFK), with the week set to finish off with the Independence Day launch of Fort Lauderdale services on July 4th. While (JFK) will be served three times per week, Fort Lauderdale will be served twice-weekly (Mondays and Fridays), as will Los Angeles (Wednesdays and Sundays).
All three of the routes are operated by the low cost carrier (LCC)’s 291-seat 787-8s and will face no direct competition, however, there is plenty of service to New York and Los Angeles from London Heathrow (LHR) in terms of indirect competition. On Los Angeles, there are seven daily competing frequencies split between five incumbents (with British Airways (BAB) and Virgin Atlantic Airways (VAA) both offering twice-daily operations, along with Air New Zealand (ANZ), American Airlines (AAL) and United Airlines (UAL) all providing daily services. On New York, however, the indirect competition will be even more intense with over >200 existing weekly frequencies.
Beginning with New York Newark, (UAL) currently offers five daily flights, (BAB) flies 20 times weekly and Virgin Atlantic (VAA) operates double-daily on the airport pair. To New York (JFK), there is even more capacity available, with (BAB) (59 weekly flights), (VAA) (28), (AAL), and Delta Air Lines (DAL) (21), as well as Kuwait Airways (KUW) (3) providing the competition.
August 2014: The European Commission (EC) is urging the USA Department of Transportation (DOT) to approve Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) application for a foreign air carrier permit, arguing that the application does not violate the USA-(EU) "Open Skies" agreement’s clause on labor regulations.
Budget carrier, Norwegian (NAI)/(NWG) has opened a new long-haul base at London Gatwick Airport (LGW), supporting its Boeing 787 routes to Los Angeles, New York and Fort Lauderdale.
(NWG)/(NAI) is already well established at Gatwick. It opened a short-haul base at the airport in 2013, which has since expanded to 90 pilots (FC) and 200 cabin crew (CA). “Our hiring in the UK has been well received and many pilots (FC) are keen to be based at London Gatwick,” (NAI)/(NWG) Flight Operations Director, Torstein Hoås said, adding that cabin crew (CA) recruitment will begin early next year.
In 2014, (NWG)/(NAI) expects its 41 Gatwick routes to handle more than >3 million passengers. It is also recruiting pilots (FC) for its New York (JFK) base, where it already has cabin crew.
Earlier this year, Norwegian (NWG) formed a new Irish arm, Norwegian Air International (NAI), which it planned to use to operate its 787 services out of Gatwick. However, this caused an outcry from trade unions on both sides of the Atlantic, which accuse Norwegian of using Ireland as a “flag of convenience” to circumvent local labor laws. Norwegian (NWG) refutes this, saying the move is motivated by traffic rights and airplane financing benefits.
“We are already flying the 787s out of Gatwick. All of Norwegian’s long-haul routes between the USA and the Europe are operated by Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG), which has all the necessary permits to fly to and from the USA. Our subsidiary is still waiting for an approval from the USA Department of Transportation (DOT), but this doesn’t affect our operations today,” a Norwegian spokeswoman said.
Norwegian operates a fleet of seven 787s on its long-haul network and has another 10 on firm order.
The Oslo-based carrier claims to be Europe’s third largest low-cost carrier (LCC), carrying over >20 million passengers annually. It operates 417 routes to 126 destinations in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, USA and Southeast Asia. It employs approximately 4,500 people.
September 2014: Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG) said that the USA Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced it needs more time to reach a decision on Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) application for a foreign carrier permit to serve the USA from Europe.
(NWG) has been waiting for more than >6 months for a (DOT) decision on its application and a ruling was anticipated for this month. But (NWG) said that the (DOT) was dismissing (NAI)’s exemption application “on procedural grounds.”
“[The exemption dismissal] simply gives the (DOT) additional time to consider (NAI)’s permit application. It is not a denial. (NWG) already holds a permit to fly between Europe and the USA, and (NWG)’s existing operations to the USA are not affected by the announcement.”
“While we think it is unfortunate that the (DOT) feels the need to further delay issuance of our permit, which has been pending now for over six months, (NAI) stands behind its business (from its pilots (FC) and cabin crew (CA), to its affordable fare model, to its desire to bring competition to the transatlantic market) and looks forward to receiving approval to operate without further delay,” (NAI) (CEO), Asgeir Nyseth added.
(NAI)’s application has met with opposition from labor groups, which object to (NAI) being registered in Ireland and outsourcing crew training and jobs to Asia to lower costs. They are concerned about setting a precedent for a “flags of convenience” business model similar to that used in the maritime industry. Some airlines are also opposed to (NAI)’s proposal.
But three former USA Secretaries of Transportation, Norman Mineta, Mary Peters, and Andy Card are in favor of the application, (NAI) said. Proponents say the application is valid under the terms of the (EU) - USA "Open Skies" agreement.
Norwegian Air dismissal would undermine the (EU) - USA Open Skies.
October 2014: News Item A1: Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG) indicated it is prepared to wait as long as necessary to gain USA Department of Transportation (DOT) approval for its Ireland-based long-haul subsidiary, Norwegian Air International (NAI) to operate flights between Europe and the USA.
"Norwegian (NAI)/(NWG) challenging legacy operator notions on transatlantic airfares" by Air Transport World (ATW) Aaron Karp in his AirKarp blog:
“Why should it cost twice as much to fly from New York to Europe than from New York to Seattle?” This question was posed by Norwegian Air International (NAI) (CEO), Asgeir Nyseth during the course of a nearly hour-long roundtable discussion with editors from (ATW) and Aviation Week. Nyseth was talking about (NAI)’s plans (assuming it gains USA Department of Transportation clearance) to operate Boeing 787s and perhaps 737 MAXs on low fares, transatlantic flights. He said this is threatening to USA and European legacy carriers accustomed to charging high prices for any ticket labeled “transatlantic.”
I did a cursory search online for round trip tickets between New York (JFK) and London Heathrow (LHR) and between (JFK) and Seattle. In both instances, I sought flights leaving (JFK) on November 7 and returning on November 14. The result: nonstop flights on each route would be about the same duration (6 hours, 45 minutes to London and 6 hours, 30 minutes to Seattle). The cheapest round trip, economy (Y)-class ticket to (LHR came in at $967, while the cheapest ticket to Seattle was priced at $336, a whopping -65% lower.
“The only thing that’s different is you have the sea under you,” Nyseth said.
Why the vast difference in prices? Nyseth argues that it is just a matter of legacy tradition that can now be made irrelevant by the super-efficient 787. “The 787 is the first and only airplane you can do long-haul, low cost with,” he said.
Of course, a big part of it is customer expectation. Those flying across the pond expect meals, movies, blankets, etc, while those flying domestically in the USA have come to expect little more than a seat and a soda. The legacy carriers also emphasize premium cabins on transatlantic flights and are in an arms race to provide the best business (C)-class service between the USA and Europe.
The European Commission (EC) has called for an “urgent” meeting of the joint committee that governs the USA - European Union (EU) "open skies" to discuss the USA Department of Transportation’s (DOT) delay in approving Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) application to serve the USA.
On October 20th, Aeron Karp added four follow-up thoughts to his last post on Norwegian Air International (NAI):
A1-A: As I found out from a number of emails and comments, some people find it outrageous to discuss (NAI) without a full airing of the controversy surrounding its application to the USA Department of Transportation for a foreign air carrier permit to operate flights between the European Union (EU) and the USA. We’ve covered that issue exhaustively here at (ATW) and I had written a news article on it the day prior to my blog post.
But the truth is that the (DOT )likely will eventually approve the application and then (NAI) will get to try out its low fares, transatlantic business plan. It’s worth discussing that business plan (which upsets some longstanding ideas about the transatlantic market) without constantly stopping to go over the well-publicized arguments against (NAI)’s (DOT) application. There’s no shortage of news and information about the controversy surrounding the application to the (DOT). There is, however, less talk about (NAI)’s business plan, if it gets approval (my blog post was in part aimed at getting that conversation going).
A1.B: I have no idea whether (NAI)’s business plan will work. But it and other carriers (Air Canada (ACN) is growing its lower fares rouge brand and WestJet (WJI) has transatlantic aspirations) are going to try exploring the market for non-business (C)-class, no-frills, low-fares flights across the Atlantic. When listening to (NAI) (CEO), Asgeir Nyseth during a recent roundtable discussion with (ATW) and Aviation Week editors, I couldn’t help but hear echoes of Spirit Airlines (SPR) (CEO), Ben Baldanza. Just as (SPR) is capturing leisure passengers in the USA, who can’t afford to fly mainline carriers but are willing to forgo creature comforts for very low fares, (NAI) believes it can tap into a market of passengers who are interested in transatlantic travel but flinch at current transatlantic airfares.
(SPR) gets a lot of heat in the mainstream media for its fast-food version of air travel, but (SPR)’s financial figures and load factors speak to an undeniable fact: There exists in the USA a large and growing population of leisure travelers who will only fly at (SPR)/Allegiant Air (WJE) fare levels. The three major international USA airlines and even Southwest Airlines (SWA) acknowledge (SPR) and (WJE) are creating new passengers, not taking away passengers from other airlines. Similarly, (NAI) believes it can create new, cost-conscious transatlantic leisure passengers.
Yes, as some emailers pointed out, (NAI) adds fees to its low fares, but that’s the point (as with (SPR) passengers who want to travel cheap will be able to do so, even if it means packing tight and eschewing in-flight amenities. Again, I don’t know if (NAI) will succeed, but very few knowledgeable people in the airline industry are sneering at (SPR) these days.
A1.C: Nyseth asked, “Why should it cost twice as much to fly from New York to Europe than from New York to Seattle?” and I noted I did an online search that found a 65% difference between ticket prices between (JFK) and Seattle and (JFK) and Heathrow (LHR). Yes, there are differences between domestic and international flights in terms of taxation, regulations, etc, and I don’t think Nyseth was suggesting there would ever be price-parity between USA transcontinental and transatlantic flights. But he was pointing out the extreme price difference, a function of taxes, etc, but also of passenger expectations, a status quo mentality and a resistance to the kind of open market competition in international markets (even in the competitive transatlantic market) that exists in domestic markets. Also, airplanes such as the Boeing 787, Airbus A350 and later the 737 MAX and A321neo are bringing a heretofore unavailable level of fuel efficiency that could change the cost equation for transatlantic flying.
A1-D): An observation from covering the airline business for a long time: The industry is very resistant to change (often at a great cost) and those proposing to upend the status quo get a lot of pushback. But those who challenge that status quo and succeed (Herb Kelleher, for example) are then lauded as pioneering visionaries. In other words, the industry is generally reluctant to celebrate change until it knows for sure whether that change is going to be successful.
News Item A-2. Norwegian (NAI)/(NWG) currently has seven 787-8s and eventually plans to operate a fleet of 40 - 50 787 Dreamliners, a mix of 787-8s with 291 seats and 787-9s with 347 seats. Their 787s will be in an all (Y)-economy configuration with “premium economy” (PY) seats available, but no business (C) class.
“We have no plan for business (C) class,” Nyseth emphasized. Echoing what Spirit Airlines (SPR) says about the USA domestic market, Nyseth said Norwegian (NAI)/(NWG) will attract passengers who previously bypassed transatlantic air travel because of cost. “We don’t take passengers from other airlines,” he said. “We create a new market.”
News Item A-3: Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG)/(NAI) has selected Rolls-Royce (RRC) (Trent 1000) engines for +9 additional leased Boeing 787-9 airplanes. This brings the total number of (NWG)/(NAI)’s (Trent 1000)-powered Boeing 787s to 17.
According to Rolls-Royce (RRC), (NWG)/(NAI) has also ordered long-term TotalCare service support for engines powering the nine airplanes, worth $440 million. The leased airplanes will be powered by the latest version of the (Trent 1000), the (Trent 1000-TEN).
(RRC) Chief Customer Officer Civil Large Engines, Dominic Horwood said the (Trent 1000) is delivering “excellent fuel burn economics and the best reliability performance on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.”
November 2014: News Item A-1: Norwegian (NWG)/(NAI) continued its rapid expansion with three new routes having been added. On October 30th, (NAI) commenced its third route to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK), when it launched twice-weekly 787-8 flights (Thursdays and Sundays) on the 8,616 km sector from Copenhagen (CPH), a route already served by Thai Airways (TII)’s daily services. (NAI) is already flying to Suvarnabhumi with four weekly flights from Stockholm Arlanda and Oslo Gardermoen. Two days later, on November 1st, (NWG) increased its seasonal offering from London Gatwick (LGW), with twice-weekly flights (Tuesdays and Saturdays) to Funchal (FNC) and weekly operations (Saturdays) to La Palma (SPC), both sectors being served until March 28th using (NWG)’s 186Y-seat 737-800s. While the route to the capital of Portugal’s Autonomous Region of Madeira is flown by easyJet (EZY) (six times weekly), Monarch Airlines (MON) (thrice-weekly) and Thomson Airways (ATZ)/(TFY) (weekly), the link to the most north-westerly of the Canary Islands is operated by Thomson Airways (ATZ)/(TFY) (twice-weekly). Noteworthy is the fact that the service to Thailand is (NAI)’s fourth long-haul route from the Danish gateway, as it already operates to Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles and New York (JFK). Furthermore, starting in March 2015, (NAI) will commence its fifth long-haul sector from Copenhagen, namely to Orlando.
News Item A-2: Advocates on both sides of the debate over Norwegian Air International (NAI) are making their voices heard in Washington DC this month, hoping to convince the USA Department of Transportation (DOT) to either approve or disallow (NAI) from flying transatlantic flights to/from the USA.
Parent, Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG) (CEO), Bjørn Kjos is visiting the USA capital city to make public appearances in support of (NAI), Norwegian’s Ireland-based long-haul subsidiary, which in February filed an application with the (DOT) for a foreign carrier permit to serve the USA from the European Union (EU).
“(NAI) will provide the traveling public with an innovative, low-cost option that offers award-winning service to new and underserved destinations on brand-new Boeing  Dreamliner airplanes,” Kjos will say this month, according to a preview of his public remarks provided by Norwegian (NWG). “(DOT) approval of (NAI)’s application is the final barrier preventing American consumers from the choice they so desperately want and deserve.”
The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), one of the strongest voices in the alliance of unions and mainline USA and European airlines that are against (NAI)’s (DOT) application, organized a public display of pilots (FC) on Capitol Hill to urge members of Congress to oppose (NAI). “USA and legitimate (EU) airlines play by the rules in the global marketplace — that’s fair competition,” (ALPA) President, Lee Moak said. “Conversely, (NAI)’s model to skirt employment and tax laws is a direct attack on the fair market.”
Norwegian (NWG) has strongly rejected the assertion that it is avoiding employment and tax laws by basing (NAI) in Ireland. “I believe the values of innovation, competition and the rule of law (so highly prized here in the USA)) will serve to overcome the opposition (NAI) has received from entrenched interests,” Kjos plans to say. “I am confident that adherence to international agreements and the law will be the factors upon which the (DOT) ultimately relies on to decide this matter. I am equally confident (NAI)’s application will be approved by the (DOT), albeit far overdue.”
While (ALPA) and others believe (NAI) threatens USA jobs, (NWG) noted it “already employs 300 American cabin crewmembers in Fort Lauderdale and New York, and currently is recruiting American pilots (FC) at its New York pilot (FC) base.” (NAI) said that (NAI) “meets all statutory and regulatory requirements to serve the USA and is entitled to (DOT) approval with minimum procedural delay.”
Moak countered, “The USA maritime industry has seen the adverse effects of flag-of-convenience business practices, where companies register merchant ships in a foreign state to avoid their own country’s regulation, taxes and labor codes. The precedent proposed by (NAI) threatens the USA airline industry and our jobs.”
(ALPA) said (NAI) will “take advantage of Ireland’s relaxed employment laws to employ outsourced foreign-domiciled workers contracted from a separate employer at wage and benefit levels substantially lower than if it operated as a Norwegian airline headquartered in Norway.”
(NAI) (CEO), Asgeir Nyseth said in October, “We moved to Ireland to have (EU) traffic rights. It is not possible to grow [into a major international long-haul airline] just within Norway. The only reason we are in Ireland is to have access to the (EU) market.”
Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG) (CEO), Bjørn Kjos told a Washington DC audience on November 20th that Irish labor laws played no role in the decision to base long-haul subsidiary Norwegian Air International (NAI) in Ireland. “It has nothing to do with labor costs,” Kjos told the International Aviation Club. “I didn’t even look at the labor laws in Ireland when I was setting up [NAI].”
Veering away from his prepared text, Kjos gave a spirited and free-wheeling defense of (NAI)’s application to the USA Department of Transportation (DOT) for a foreign carrier permit to serve the USA from the European Union (EU). The application has been pending since February and faces opposition from USA airline unions plus USA and European mainline carriers. Kjos said (NAI) will offer Americans low fares on transatlantic flights, bring Asian tourists to the USA and create jobs in the USA. “You shouldn’t be fighting [NAI],” Kjos said. “We are providing low fares to Americans and we fly [USA manufactured Boeing 787] Dreamliners.”
He said Norwegian (NWG) would continue to aggressively push for the (DOT) to approve (NAI)’s application. “We know how to fight back against slanderous campaigns,” Kjos said, adding that “it costs us a fortune for every day we don’t get approval.”
He said the (DOT) may be going against USA economic interests by not approving (NAI)’s application. Once (NAI) gains regulatory clearance, it will “need many more [Boeing] airplanes and hire more crews (FC) at [New York] (JFK). We will need to set up crew (FC) - (CA) bases in Los Angeles.”
Kjos pushed back hard against claims that (NAI) would be unsafe, saying Norwegian 787 pilots (FC) average 13,000 hours of flight time. “We have probably the most experienced crew in the world,” he said. “Are they unsafe?” He added that “Irish [safety] inspectors are very skilled inspectors” and follow all (EU) flight safety regulations.
Kjos reiterated that (NAI) is based in Ireland because Norway is too isolated to serve as the base for a global long-haul network. “I can’t run an operation with 787s from Oslo,” he said. “That is why I need an (EU) license. We need a foothold in the (EU). I need access to all the cities in Europe. [With an (EU) base], I can fly Americans cheap to China, to Singapore, to Africa. I can fly Asians to the USA.”
Kjos said USA pilots (FC) “have nothing to fear” from (NAI) and USA airlines shouldn’t shy away from competition on transatlantic routes. “Competition is the brand-mark of the USA,” he said. “That’s why you’re the best nation in the world. So start competing, I say to everyone trying to stop us.”
He added, “I promise you one thing: We will give you low fares across the Atlantic. Right now [the transatlantic market] is dominated by the three alliances. And guess who is trying to stop us?”
Three major European carriers have now made representations to the European Commission (EC), opposing plans by Norwegian Air International (NAI) to start transatlantic operations.
Air France (AFA), (KLM) Royal Dutch Airlines, and Lufthansa (DLH) have effectively joined USA opponents of Ireland-registered (NAI), which wants to start low-cost carrier (LCC) services to the USA. They claim that, by using Thai personnel based in Ireland, the Scandinavian airline is attempting to circumvent expensive Norwegian employment legislation. (NAI), a subsidiary of (LCC) Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG), has repeatedly denied the charge.
(NAI)’s application to fly to the USA has been stalled in the USA Department of Transportation for months and the (EC) has been supportive of the Norwegian carrier’s application, calling on the USA to observe the spirit of the "Open Skies" agreement.
Now, in an open letter to the (EC), President Jean-Claude Juncker and several (EC) commissioners, Air France (AFA) - (KLM), and Lufthansa (DLH) (together with several European pilots (FC)’s and cabin crew (CA) unions) have urged the (EC) to oppose (NAI)’s proposals.
In the latest round of the increasingly heated argument over (NAI)’s plans, they accuse (NAI) of “abuses of European social standards in the field of aviation,” arguing that “they intend to employ crewmembers from Thailand that are hired through a Singaporean agency.
“Competition in aviation is intense and it keeps us sharp. However, through business models like this, we risk entering a downward spiral to the social bottom, risking thousands of qualified European jobs. European aviation currently provides 9.3 million jobs and adds €512 billion/$638 billion to European Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“If we allow Norwegian Air International (NAI) to start employing Thai crew on the (EU) - USA routes, others will soon follow and jobs will be lost inside the (EU) and created elsewhere. The USA has temporarily denied Norwegian Air International (NAI)’s request for a foreign carrier permit. The (EC) should now take a strong stance and prevent (NAI) from abusing European social standards and legislation through employing Thai crew. We need to preserve European jobs instead of outsourcing them to other continents.”
February 2015: Low-cost carrier (LCC) Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG) recorded a 2014 loss of -NOK1.05 billion/-$137 million, reversed from a profit of +NOK322 million in 2013. (NWG) said its rapid expansion and investment for further future growth were major factors behind its first annual loss in eight years.
Revenue jumped +25% to NOK19.5 billion year-over-year. Passenger numbers were up +16% to 24 million, while capacity, measured in (ASK)s, was up +35%. Load factor rose +3% to 81% LF.
The company has been engaged in a lengthy battle to win regulatory approval for low-cost transatlantic services, as it faces determined opposition from trade unions and airlines. It priced the costs related to the delayed approval of a USA foreign air carrier permit for the company’s Ireland-based long-haul subsidiary Norwegian Air International (NAI) at NOK117 million, while a strike in May accounted for NOK101 million.
It added that a combination of major currency fluctuations and fuel hedging for 2015 had a negative result effect of NOK690 million for the full year. Long-haul delays also cost NOK265 million in 2014, through factors such as extra fuel, as well as expenses related to accommodation, food and drinks for delayed passengers.
“There is no denying that 2014 has been a weak year for Norwegian (NWG),” (CEO), Bjørn Kjos said. “At the same time, we do see several positive trends entering 2015. Last year was characterized by continued international expansion, not least, the launch of new long-haul routes. Our growth strategy yields results as we continue to gain a stronger global foothold. Even with large investment costs, we have managed to reduce unit costs and renewed our fleet considerably.
“Entering 2015, we see a satisfactory demand for quality flights at affordable fares and are already in the first quarter benefiting from the low oil price. Still, there is no doubt that we need to further reduce our cost level in order to stay competitive in a very challenging market.”
787-8 (35305, EI-LNB; 35310, EI-LND; 35313, EI-LNF), re-registered.
June 2015: News Item A-1: Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG), which is still awaiting USA Department of Transportation (DOT) approval for its Norwegian Air International (NAI) long-haul subsidiary, will fly from northeast USA cities to the Caribbean in the winter.
Staring December 3, 2015, (NAI) will operate 3x-weekly flights from New York (JFK) to the Guadeloupe Islands and Martinique as well as twice-weekly service to the Caribbean destinations from both Baltimore/Washington (BWI) and Boston (BOS). The flights, to be operated with Boeing 737-800s configured with 186Y seats, will be seasonal.
There are currently no flights from (JFK), (BWI) or (BOS) to Guadeloupe or Martinique. Since Guadeloupe and Martinique are legally part of France (and by extension, the European Union (EU)) the flights are allowed under the USA - (EU) "Open Skies" agreement, of which Norway became a party in 2011.
Norwegian (NWG)/(NAI) hopes to entice USA passengers to fly to the Caribbean destinations with low fares (the introductory one-way fare from all three airports will be $79) and said the flights “also give Norwegian (NWG)/(NAI)’s passengers from Europe a golden opportunity to combine a city break in New York with an exotic Caribbean vacation.”
Norwegian (NWG) wants to operate low-fares transatlantic flights with Ireland-based (NAI), but needs approval from the (DOT). Its foreign air carrier permit application was filed with the (DOT) in February 2014. Though frustrated with the delay in issuing a ruling, Norwegian (NWG) executives have said they are willing to wait and plan to continue building up the airline’s USA presence in the meantime. The new Caribbean flights appear to be part of that strategy.
In announcing the Guadeloupe and Martinique flights, (CEO), Bjørn Kjos reiterated Norwegian (NWG)’s USA commitment, saying, “We will continue to expand in the USA, by launching new routes and establishing more USA bases.”
September 2015: Norwegian Air International (NAI) has announced a series of new transatlantic routes, despite the continued reluctance by the USA Department of Transportation (DOT) to grant it a license for Europe - USA services.
(NAI) has announced plans to launch services from Cork, in the Irish Republic, to both Boston and New York. It also plans a new Cork - Barcelona route. The Boston and Barcelona routes (both amounting to four or five weekly rotations) have been penciled in for May 2016, with New York following in 2017.
The Boston and New York routes will be served initially by a Boeing 737-800, then by a 737 MAX when Norwegian (NAI) starts to receive the new variant.
Plans for the new routes were confirmed September 25 in a letter from Norwegian (NWG)/(NAI) (CEO) Bjørn Kjos to Ireland’s Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Paschal Donohoe.
“We are delighted to offer a long-awaited service from the USA to Cork and the southern parts of Ireland, which will create huge business, leisure and tourism opportunities,” Kjos predicted.
“This is only the beginning of our plans for new routes in Ireland, but our expansion relies on the USA Department of Transportation finally approving Norwegian Air International (NAI)’s application for a foreign carrier permit. Only (DOT) approval for (NAI) will unlock the door for these exciting new routes, creating more competition, more choice and better fares for business and leisure passengers on both sides of the Atlantic.”
(NAI) has been awaiting a license from the (DOT) for a considerable period. (USA) (and some European) airlines and unions have objected strongly to (NAI)’s proposed transatlantic service, accusing it of basing its long-haul operations in Ireland and using Asian crews to get around Norway’s strict labor laws. (NAI) denies the accusation.
A Norwegian spokesman in London said there was no sign of any movement yet from the (DOT) on the question of approvals, “but we hope that these new flights show our commitment to providing low-cost transatlantic services from Ireland.”
October 2015: News Item A-1: European low-cost carriers (LCC) Norwegian (NWG) and Ryanair (RYR) are closing in on a cooperative agreement that would see (RYR) feeding passengers into (NWG)’s long-haul services operated by Norwegian Air International (NWG).
Norwegian (NWG)/(NAI) (CEO), Bjørn Kjos told "Bloomberg News" that negotiations with Ryanair (RYR) were proceeding and there could be an agreement “shortly.” “We’ve been in talks with [Norwegian] and a couple of other airlines,” said (RYR) spokesman, Robin Kiely. “It would primarily be for feeding their base at [London] Gatwick.”
(RYR) has also been talking about feeding traffic into Aer Lingus (ARL)’s transatlantic services at Dublin, (TAP) Portugal’s South American services in Lisbon, Virgin Atlantic (VAA)’s services at Gatwick and the International Airlines Group (parent company to British Airways (BAB) and Iberia (IBE)) at London Stansted. Currently, Stansted does not host any long-haul services.
However, any such arrangements would not be a standard interline agreement, where responsibilities tended to be split evenly between the partners, said Kiely. It would be up to the long-haul carrier to take responsibility for areas such as baggage transfer or any delays. Tickets for such services would probably be sold through Global Distribution Systems (GDS) arrangements: “You wouldn’t be able to go on to the Aer Lingus (ARL) website and buy a (RYR) ticket, for example. (RYR) would also be unlikely to alter its schedules or hold airplanes in the event of a late incoming long-haul service, Kiely said.
Negotiations were proceeding with several airlines, but he was unable to say which would mature first. However, there was likely to be something in place in time for the next northern hemisphere summer timetables, which begin in late March 2016.
With legacy carriers increasingly moving towards providing long-haul services and (RYR) in a position to deliver large quantities of passengers to long-haul hubs, such a move made sense, Kiely said.
“We have talked to several players at London Gatwick, including (RYR) and easyJet (EZY) about cooperating on smooth and affordable transfers from one airline to another,” said a Norwegian spokeswoman, “and we welcome any initiatives or partnerships that gives customers a greater choice. “We continue to have good discussions with (RYR) but nothing is agreed at this stage, and it is too early to speculate further.”
November 2015: News Item A-1: "Norwegian (NWG) Eyes Expansion As It Gains UK (AOC)" by (ATW) Alan Dron, November 13, 2015.
Low-cost carrier (LCC) Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG) received an air operator’s certificate (AOC) from the British regulatory authorities, enabling it to grow its UK operations.
(NWG) has established a Norwegian UK subsidiary. This will allow it, as a UK-licensed operator, to make use of the country’s existing and future bilateral agreements. (NWG) is particularly keen to expand its long-haul services from London’s Gatwick Airport to Asia, South America, and South Africa.
(NWG) also flies from the UK regional airports of Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh and said it has flown 3.9 million UK passengers in the past year.
Since opening its Gatwick base in 2013, (NWG) has increased its presence there to 400 personnel as well as eight Boeing 737-800s and two 787-8s. The latter operate transatlantic (LCC) services to four USA cities (New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale) as well as to Puerto Rico. Boston will follow as the fifth USA destination in May 2016.
Its London operations are separate from those of long-haul subsidiary Norwegian Air International (NAI), which has an Irish (AOC), but whose attempts to gain permission to fly into the USA have stalled in the USA Department of Transportation, following strong opposition from USA airlines and pilots (FC) unions.
Its latest financial results shows (NWG)’s strongest growth in terms of passenger numbers was at Gatwick. This will increase further, if (NWG) reaches agreement with Ryanair (RYR) to feed short-haul passengers in to its long-haul operation there.
To handle growth, Norwegian (NWG) intends to station two 787-9s at the London base next year. “That will give us more capacity on long-haul routes (that’s where we are seeing expansion),” (NWG) UK spokesman, Chase Burns said.
It will formally start operations under the Norwegian UK name in the first quarter of 2016. “The British market continues to play a major role in Norwegian (NWG)’s growth,” added (NWG)’s (CEO), Bjørn Kjos. “Securing a UK operating license is great news and an important step to get a stronger foothold in the UK, as we plan for further expansion, new routes and new jobs.”
News Item A-2: Bjorn Kjos stated that Norwegian (NWG)/(NAI) expects courts to settle with the (DOT) on its USA routes issue.
Low-cost, long-haul carrier Norwegian (NWG)/(NAI) has seen no movement in its stalemate with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) over a license for its proposed transatlantic flights.
4 737-8JP (39020, EI-FHY; 39045, EI-FHR; 40865, EI-FHP; 40867, EI-FHP), LSD 2015-11, EX-(LN-DYH, LN-DYJ, LN-DYL, LN-NGI).
February 2016: News Item A-1: "Norwegian (NWG) USA Routes Issue to Top USA - (EU) Meeting in April" by (ATW) Madhu Unnikrishnan, February 4, 2016.
Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) pending application for permission to serve the USA will be on the agenda at the next USA - European Union (EU) aviation meeting, in April in Washington DC.
The topic, along with Norwegian UK’s (NUK) recent application to serve the USA, will be discussed when the Joint Committee overseeing the USA - (EU) "Open Skies" agreement meets. Both Norwegian subsidiaries seek to fly to the USA. The (NAI) has an Irish air operator’s certificate (AOC), while (NUK) has a UK (AOC). (NAI)’s application for a foreign air carrier permit has been pending for two years, while (NUK) applied late last year.
A coalition of labor groups and airlines has opposed both carriers’ applications. In the case of (NAI), opponents say its Irish (AOC) is a way for it to skirt Norway’s strict labor laws and source crews (FC)/(CA) from the (EU), the USA and Asia, which they claim violates labor protection provisions in the "open skies" agreement. (NUK) already has extensive operations from London’s Gatwick Airport, and opponents are asking the USA government to request more information on (NUK)’s labor practices. Norwegian (NWG) says both its subsidiaries are in compliance with USA and (EU) labor laws.
In recent weeks, Norwegian (NWG) has enlisted the support of the Irish civil aviation authority and Irish politicians to press its case with the USA Department of Transportation (DOT). The European Commission (EC) is planning to lodge a more formal objection to the (DOT)’s delay in granting (NAI) a foreign air carrier permit and is considering arbitration, people familiar with the matter said.
(NUK) has seen strong support from cargo carriers, travel industry groups, the UK government and airports in the USA and the UK.
“Norwegian (nwg)’s operations and philosophy are in the best tradition of UK - USA relations, based on free and open trade from both sides,” Gatwick Airport (CEO) Stewart Wingate said in a filing to the (DOT). “We urge the USA government to not undermine this by succumbing to self-serving demands for protectionism from a number of interested parties.”
News Item A-2: Low-cost carrier (LCC) Norwegian Air Shuttle plans to launch a new batch of transatlantic routes from Paris Charles De Gaulle (CDG) this summer.
The new services will operate to New York JFK from July 29, Los Angeles (July 30) and Fort Lauderdale (Aug. 4). New York will be operated 4X-weekly, Los Angeles 2X-weekly and Fort Lauderdale weekly.
Norwegian already operates long-haul services to the US from the three Scandinavian capitals of Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm, as well as from London Gatwick.
These, as well as the new services from Paris, are separate from the proposed services for which subsidiary Norwegian Air International (NAI) has been trying to gain approval from the US authorities for two years. US airlines and unions have complained that NAI has been set up in Ireland to get around Norway’s rigorous labor legislation. This is denied by Norwegian.
Norwegian already operates short-haul flights from Paris Orly to five Nordic destinations. However, it decided to use Paris CDG for its new long-haul services: “Orly Airport has heavy slot constraints, which made it impossible for Norwegian to get the number of slots required to launch a long-haul operation there,” an airline spokesman told ATW.
The flights will be served by Norwegian’s Boeing 787s in a two-class configuration—32 seats in premium class and 259 in economy.
“The choice of Paris as our fifth European long-haul capital clearly underlines our commitment to France,” said Bjørn Kjos, Norwegian’s CEO. “Paris is one of Europe’s main gateways, and we see great potential to expand at Charles De Gaulle Airport in the future, adding more long-haul routes as well as more frequencies.”
With the addition of the new routes from Paris CDG Norwegian will operate 31 routes from 12 airports in France, as well as the French territories of Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean.
In 2015, Norwegian carried 967,000 passengers in France, up 4.4% on 2014.
“Aéroports de Paris welcomes the fact that Norwegian has chosen Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to launch its first long-haul direct flight from France,” said Franck Goldnadel, executive director, chief airport operations officer, at Paris CDG. “As a result of this choice, we are able to diversify our long-haul offering from Terminal 1.”
News Item A-3: Norwegian Air International (NAI) has delayed plans for new services from Cork Airport in the Irish Republic to Boston in the light of the continued delay by the USA Department of Transportation (DOT) in granting a license for (NAI) flights.
(NAI)’s plans are still in limbo, some two years after it applied for permission from the (DOT) to operate transatlantic routes. Objections have been raised by USA carriers and trade unions, which argue that (NWG) has based (NAI) in Ireland to avoid Norway’s more rigorous labor laws. Norwegian (NWG) denies this.
(NAI) said it was frustrated that clear demand for transatlantic services from Cork was being thwarted. It aimed to start Boston services in May, followed by New York in 2017. It planned initially to operate Boeing 737-800s on the Boston route, followed by Boeing 787s as it accepted more of the twin-aisle type into its fleet.
“Due to continued delays by the USA Department of Transportation, our intention to begin flights from Cork in May is no longer possible, but we still intend to start flights as soon as possible this summer.
“We will continue to fight for our clear and legitimate right for a Foreign Carrier Permit and we welcome any steps by the Irish and European authorities to help resolve this issue.
“Norwegian (NAI) is grateful for the huge support we have received from Cork Airport, the Irish authorities and the wider public for our planned new routes. Not only are we fully committed to new transatlantic flights from Cork this year but we are also looking at options for further expansion in Ireland. We see several interesting route opportunities from Ireland.”
April 2016: News Item A-1: The USA Department of Transportation (DOT) has given tentative permission for Norwegian Air International (NAI) to serve the USA, more than two years after (NAI) applied for a foreign air carrier permit.
The announcement April 15 by the (DOT) that (NAI) “appears to meet (DOT)’s normal standards for award of a permit and there is no legal basis to deny NAI’s application” is a huge coup for the Dublin-based (NAI), an Irish-flag subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG).
In particular, the (DOT) deemed that the provision in a USA - European Union (EU) agreement that addresses labor, does not form a basis for rejecting an applicant that is otherwise qualified to receive a permit.
The labor issue has been highly contentious, with union groups arguing that (NAI) was operating under a “flag of convenience” by basing (NAI)in Ireland so as to sidestep labor rules.
In giving its tentative approval, the (DOT) stated that it acknowledges the labor-related concerns and took “the unprecedented step” of formally consulting two agencies with special expertise on international law, the Department of Justice’s office of legal counsel and the State Department.
(NAI) has an Irish air operator’s certificate (AOC) and applied December 2, 2013, for a foreign air carrier permit to serve the USA. (DOT)’s failure to grant or deny the permit over a protracted time, despite the USA - (EU) "Open Skies" agreement, led to the application being taken up at the European Commission (EC).
Several USA and European carriers objected to (NAI)’s application, including American Airlines (AAL), Delta Air Lines (DAL), Lufthansa (DLH), (SAS), and United Airlines (UAL). The deadline for objections to the permit is May 6, while responses must be submitted by May 13.
When the permit is finalized, (NAI) plans to begin operations to the USA, including the first-ever service between Cork, Ireland, and Boston.
“A final approval, based on the "Open Skies" agreement between the USA and (EU), will be win-win for consumers and the economy on both sides of the Atlantic. It will allow Norwegian (NAI) to expand our USA operations. Our continued presence in the USA will create thousands of jobs and generate tens of millions of dollars of economic activity for the Group’s USA destinations,” Norwegian Group (CEO), Bjørn Kjos said.
The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) issued a statement saying the decision exposed “serious flaws” in USA aviation policy. The “(DOT) is proposing to allow a foreign airline to compete directly with USA airlines on long-haul international routes with unfair economic advantages,” (ALPA) President, Tim Canoll said.
Meanwhile, in March a UK subsidiary of Norwegian (NWG), Norwegian UK (NUK) also applied to serve the USA, an application that has seen strong support from cargo carriers, travel industry groups, the UK government and airports in the USA and the UK.
The Norwegian Group is Europe’s third largest low-cost carrier (LCC) after Ryanair (RYR) and easyJet (EZY). It operates over >93 Boeing 737s and 10 Boeing 787s, and has firm orders plus options for more than >100 Airbus A320neos, 100 Boeing 737 MAXs and 20 additional 787s.
News Item A-2: "European Pilot Union Decries USA (DOT) Approval for Norwegian Services" by (ATW) Alan Dron, April 19, 2016.
The European Cockpit Association (ECA) has criticized the USA Department of Transportation (DOT) and the European Commission (EC) for the tentative approval of Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) bid to start transatlantic services. It has accused the two regulatory bodies of “firing a gun on a race to the bottom” in crews’ working conditions.
The (ECA), which represents more than >38,000 European pilots (FC), said the April 15 approval of (NAI)’s requested traffic rights opened the door for the same type of “flag of convenience” arrangements that had driven down working conditions in the shipping industry.
Unions and some USA airlines have argued the decision to base (NAI) in Ireland is a ploy to get around Norway’s stringent labor laws, a charge (NAI) has denied. (NAI)’s application has been stuck in the (DOT) for >2 years, with the (EU) threatening to take the matter to formal arbitration unless the application was approved.
“This decision is an own goal,” (ECA) President Dirk Polloczek said. “In opening the door to this flag of convenience scheme, the USA (DOT) and the (EC) have chosen to undermine their own airline industries and destroy decent jobs and the social rights of their own citizens.
“We fundamentally disagree with this decision, and will continue to work together with our colleagues in European and USA aviation to challenge it, and to argue that this tentative approval should not be made permanent, unless and until (NAI) has made clear and satisfactory commitments as to how and where (NAI) employs its flight (FC) and cabin crew (CA).”
It said (NAI) engaged pilots (FC) and cabin crews (CA) “via a Singaporean postbox company and claims to base them in Bangkok. In fact, most of the pilots (FC) are based in Europe and operate out of European airports across the North Atlantic, but without being subject to relevant (EU) employee regulation. Cabin crews (CA) are from countries with very low labor standards, and engaged without residency or work permits in Europe.”
Polloczek said this would eliminate more USA and European jobs across the industry than the new airline would create.
“We will not just stand by and watch while our own government officials again fire the starting gun on this race to the bottom,” (ECA) VP Jon Horne added.
Interested parties have until May 6 to object to the (DOT)’s provisional agreement.
May 2016: "Norwegian Air International (NAI) Supporters Dispel Opponent Claims as Unions Protest in Washington" by (ATW) Editor Karen Walker, May 12, 2016.
Accusations from those opposed to granting Norwegian Air International (NAI) a foreign air carrier permit are “false and slanderous,” (NAI)’s supporters said on May 12.
Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) members and other aviation workers gathered in front of the White House May 12 to demonstrate opposition to (NAI), which has been given tentative approval by the USA Department of Transportation (DOT) to begin transatlantic service under the USA - European Union "Open Skies" agreement.
(NAI), which would operate out of a base in Ireland and under the regulatory oversight of the same Irish Aviation Authority that oversees Aer Lingus (ARL) and Ryanair (RYR), first applied for a permit to serve the USA in December 2013.
The USA has stalled its approval process, with labor groups on both sides of the Atlantic accusing (NAI) of operating under maritime-like “flag of convenience” operations, skirting labor, regulatory and safety rules, and using Asian crews.
But the (DOT), which also called on specialist legal teams at the USA Departments of Justice & State in its scrutiny of (NAI)’s application, said in April it could find no legal or labor reason to deny the permit.
(NAI) is an Irish-flag low-cost carrier (LCC) subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG) and would operate its USA services out of Cork and Shannon. (NWG) has been flying from Oslo to Orlando, Florida for some two years.
(ALPA) said May 12 that >300 of its pilots (FC) took part in the protest along with “hundreds of other USA aviation workers.”
“Airline employees, passengers and cargo shippers have raised their voices in united opposition, because (NAI)’s business plan is designed to undermine labor standards and the intent of one of this country’s international trade agreements,” (ALPA) President Tim Canoll said.
(ALPA) has placed advertisements calling on the government “to defend USA jobs and fair competition.”
On May 12, supporters of (NAI) held a media briefing. They included Business Travel Coalition Founder Kevin Mitchell, (NAI) Consultant & former State Deputy Assistant Secretary, John Byerly, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Executive Director, Phillip Brown and USA Travel Association Executive VP, Jonathan Grella.
Byerly said some of the opposition’s accusations were “utterly false” and that statements on the safety card were “both false and slanderous.” He said (NAI) would use only European and USA pilots (FC) on its Ireland - USA routes and that it already had a cabin crew (CA) training base in Florida.
“[NAI’s] headquarters is in Dublin and it has 80 employees there and its airplanes are registered there,” Byerly said. “The pilots (FC) must have European licenses and operate under the oversight of the Irish regulatory authority." Byerly said that if (NAI) is denied a permit, it could put into jeopardy the rights of USA airlines such as Delta Air Lines (DAL) to fly transatlantic routes within the USA -(EU) "Open Skies" treaty. “Open Skies is good for economic growth and for consumers and competition,” he said.
Mitchell added that "Open Skies" also helped to create millions of jobs for pilots (FC), cabin crews (CA), cargo shippers, airplane manufacturers and their suppliers, and in travel and tourism. “If "Open Skies" was a bridge that, as soon as they’ve crossed the Atlantic, [the USA major carriers] they now want burned, that seems to be their game plan,” Mitchell said. “I do believe that now the USA carriers have secured their antitrust immunities, they are demonstrating behaviors that are quite anti-competitive.”
August 2016: 2 737-8JPs (42079, EI-FJT "Frederika Bremer" (Swedish writer and feminist reformer); 42273, EI-FJU) deliveries.
September 2016: Norway’s Oslo Airport, Gardermoen, has opened its new domestic arrivals hall, the 1st stage of a major redevelopment plan. Arriving domestic passengers will be served by a hall some 15,000 sq m larger than the old facility and “will benefit all who arrive at Norway’s main airport,” airport owner Avinor’s (CEO) Dag Falk-Petersen said.
Passengers arriving from abroad will still be using the existing arrivals hall. As part of the redevelopment program, the old domestic arrivals hall will become the new international arrivals hall. There will be significantly more space for passengers and airlines using the airport. “We will have 5 additional baggage belts, increasing the total number to 13,” Falk-Petersen said.
The airport handles some 24 million passengers and >235,000 aircraft movements annually. The new domestic arrivals hall opened on schedule and on budget. “This would not be possible without the considerable effort of our employees,” Oslo Airport Managing Director Øyvind Hasaas said. “An efficient airport is important to many people, and this has really motivated us during the expansion process.”
The redevelopment will also include a much-expanded departures hall and a new, 300m long 3rd pier that will handle both domestic and international flights at 17 parking spots, 11 of which will be equipped with airbridges. This North Pier extends across existing taxiways, which has required the construction of a completely new taxiway system at the airport.
Construction work will continue in many areas of the facility until the formal opening of the completed airport on April 27, 2017.
December 2016: News Item A-1: In a decision released December 2, 2016, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) finally granted European low cost carrier (LCC) Norwegian Air International (NAI) a permit that will allow it to expand flights to the USA, despite fierce opposition from large USA airlines and labor groups.
(NAI) and its parent company, Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG) are big Boeing customers. They already fly >100 737s in Europe and 10 787s on long-haul international flights to the USA and Asia, plus having outstanding orders for +31 737s, 108 new 737 MAXs and +19 more 787s.
(NWG) applied 3 years ago for a foreign-air-carrier permit for its (NAI) subsidiary based in Ireland that would allow it to seamlessly operate its long-haul fleet between destinations in the USA, Europe and Asia.
The final order states that the bilateral "Open Skies" agreement between the USA and Europe (which opened up and deregulated airline routes) requires the (DOT) to grant Norwegian (NAI) approval.
(NAI) said it will add a Paris - Orlando flight this summer with fares starting at $229 one-way. With the (DOT) certificate, (NAI) can now fly from Bangkok to London, then on to New York, without ever touching down in Oslo. (NAI) is seeking initially to fly from Cork, Ireland, to Boston, and later from Cork to New York.
The (DOT) had granted (NAI) tentative approval last April, but left the application hanging through the rest of this year, prompting sharp criticism from the European Commission (EC). “This case is among the most novel and complex ever undertaken by the Department,” the (DOT) said. “We have taken the necessary amount of time to review and consider the comments from a wide range of stakeholders. Regardless of our appreciation of the public policy arguments raised by opponents, we have been advised that the law and our bilateral obligations leave no avenue to reject this application. We found that the clear weight of legal analysis in this case directs us to uphold the tentative findings and conclusions previously made.”
News Item A-2: "Norwegian (NAI) to Act on Transatlantic Approval" by
Victoria Moores email@example.com, December 5, 2016.
Norwegian Group’s Irish (LCC) subsidiary Norwegian Air International (NAI) is planning to launch transatlantic flights from Cork after finally receiving its long-awaited USA approval.
Separately, Oslo-based Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG) has announced a significant ramp-up in its transatlantic services from London Gatwick.
Norway is not a European Union (EU) member and Dublin-headquartered (NAI) was set up to give Norwegian (NWG) a foothold in the (EU) and access to full (EU) traffic rights.
Under the (EU) - USA Air Transport Agreement, both sides are meant to “swiftly” grant authorizations; however, the (EU) was forced to intervene in June 2014 because of delays on the USA clearance. After a controversial 3-year wait, which put pressure on (EU) - (USA) relations, the permit was tentatively approved in April and reluctantly finalized December 2. “This approval finally makes it possible for us to plan the Cork to the USA routes we, and many others, have been looking forward to. We also now look forward to our foreign carrier permit for Norwegian Air UK (NUK) being approved next,” a Norwegian spokesperson said.
The spokesperson described the delays as “unfortunate and unnecessary,” adding the clearance will increase flights, jobs and competition and pave the way for Norwegian’s expansion.
Aside from the developments in Cork, Norwegian (NAI) is ramping up existing transatlantic services from London Gatwick from 22 to 34 weekly flights (a +55% increase). “The airline (NUK) has more than doubled its long-haul passengers from London Gatwick in the past year and will continue its rapid UK growth in 2017,” Norwegian said.
From April, Norwegian will boost London Gatwick - Los Angeles services from 5x-weekly to daily, Fort Lauderdale from weekly to 2x-weekly, Oakland - San Francisco from 3x-weekly to 5x-weekly, and Orlando from 2x-weekly to 3x-weekly. From August, it will also move New York from daily to 2x-daily, excluding Wednesdays, which will have just 1 frequency. “Customer demand shows low-cost, long-haul flights are here to stay,” Norwegian (CCO) Thomas Ramdahl said. “With +9 more 787 Dreamliners entering our fleet next year, this will be just the beginning of our UK expansion.”
(NWG) operates 450 routes to 138 destinations in Europe, North Africa, Middle East, Thailand, the USA and the Caribbean. “All current long-haul routes [including the Gatwick increases) are operated by our main Oslo-based Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG). The permit now granted by our Irish subsidiary (NAI) offers us more flexibility on how we may operate long-haul routes in the future, but there’s no immediate changes,” Norwegian’s London-based spokesman said.
News Item A-3: "Norwegian to Detail Ireland - USA plans in Eearly 2017" by Victoria Moores (ATW) Plus, December 6, 2016.
Irish long-haul, low-cost carrier (LCC) Norwegian Air International (NAI) is to fly from Cork and Shannon and open 2 USA bases after securing its USA foreign air carrier permit. “It [the USA Department of Transportation (DOT) clearance granted December 2] surprised me. I've been waiting for 3 years, so it shouldn't have come as a surprise,” Norwegian (NWG) (CEO) Bjorn Kjos said on the sidelines of the "Future of Air Transport" conference in London.
Fast-expanding low-cost carrier (LCC) (NWG) plans to take 9 787-9s and its 1st 737 MAX in 2017, using some extra capacity to add its 1st long-haul, low-cost flights between the UK and non-USA destinations.
(NWG), the Oslo-based (LCC) said 2017 will be its “busiest ever year,” with >30 airplane deliveries, including its 1st 737 MAX, which is scheduled to arrive during the summer. “(NWG) will become the 1st European airline to fly the new Boeing 737 MAX this summer to kick-start a new era in transatlantic travel. These single-aisle airplanes can fly longer distances, offering customers potential never before seen routes from Europe to the east coast of the USA at very attractive fares. Norwegian (NWG) plans to announce a series of transatlantic routes from UK cities to the USA east coast early in 2017,” (NWG) said.
This summer, (NWG) will increase its UK - USA flights by +55%, totaling 34 direct weekly flights from London Gatwick. These routes include Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, New York, Oakland - San Francisco and Orlando. While (NWG) already serves Bangkok from Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm, all its UK-originating long-haul routes are transatlantic. “(NWG) plans to announce its 1st [UK] non-USA long-haul routes later this year once plans are finalized,” (NWG) said. In late 2016, (NWG)’s Irish subsidiary Norwegian Air International (NAI) was granted a USA foreign air carrier permit after 3 years of waiting, giving (NAI) access to transatlantic flights using an European Union (EU) air operator’s certificate (AOC).
737-8JP (42082, EI-FJZ) and 737-8Q8 (35283, EI-FHB), became (PK-CRC), deliveries.
January 2017: 2 737-8JP (42083, EI-FVH, "Jean Sibelius - Finnish Composer;" 42274, EI-FVI).
February 2017: 3 737-8JP (42275, EI-FVJ "Amy Johnson - British Aviator;" 42276, EI-FVK "Dirch Passer - Danish Actor & Comedian;" 42084, EI-FVL "Roslia de Castro - Spanish Author") and 737-86N (36809, EI-GBB), ex-(LN-NOF).
March 2017: 737-8JP (39434, EI-GBI), ex-(LN-NIF), (AWAS) (AWW) leased.
April 2017: News Item A-1: "London - Singapore Unveiled as Norwegian UK (NUK)’s 1st Route" by (ATW) Victoria Moores firstname.lastname@example.org, April 20, 2017.
Norwegian (NWG)/(NAI)/(NUK) is continuing its controversial long-haul expansion with the addition of a London Gatwick - Singapore long-haul low-cost route, operated by its new UK airline, Norwegian UK (NUK).
Gatwick-based (NUK) has its own air operator’s certificate (AOC), which was set up in 2015 to access traffic rights in Asia, Africa and South America. “The UK is at the heart of Norwegian (NWG)’s ambitious plans for growth, so it is a significant moment not only to launch this exciting new route, but also for it to be the 1st long-haul route to take to the skies with our new Norwegian UK (NUK) subsidiary,” Norwegian (NWG) (CEO) Bjorn Kjos said.
London - Singapore, which is also Norwegian (NWG)/(NUK)’s 1st UK - Asia link, will be operated 4x-weekly by Boeing 787s from September 28, increasing to 5x-weekly in the winter. “With a huge airplane order and new traffic rights in place, the new Singapore route marks the 1st step in Norwegian (NWG)’s ambitions to expand its existing long-haul network into a range of new global markets.”
(NWG)/(NUK) already serves 9 USA destinations from Gatwick, which Kjos said have attached “huge demand.”
Rapidly expanding Norwegian (NWG)/(NAI)/(NUK) operates 450 routes to 140 destinations in Europe, the USA and Asia. In 2016, (NWG)/(NAI) carried almost 30 million passengers.
News Item A-3: "Flying Long Haul with Norwegian" by Victoria Moores in "Need I say Moores" April 19, 2017.
Norwegian (NWG)/(NAI)/(NUK)’s long-haul expansion has made headlines on both sides of the Atlantic, but is the product any good? The simple answer is yes, but.
After writing about the politics of the Norwegian long-haul debate, I finally got to experience their long-haul product 1st hand. The flight was booked as a normal fare-paying passenger; this wasn’t a press trip.
Norwegian wasn’t the only option for my London - New York trip, but they had the best fare at £334.30/$422.92, which drew me in. By the time I got my payment card out, £100 in ancillaries had been added to the bill (one checked bag, allocated seating and an in-flight meal on each leg).
I rarely buy add-ons and wouldn’t have chosen all these services, but they were cheaper bundled (£50 each way) and I wasn’t sure if my cabin bag would fit the weight restrictions. Frankly, I was impressed they’d got me to part with my money. The £434.30 fare was still more than competitive and the booking process was simple, clean and clear. I received text message updates throughout my trip.
The only downside of my outbound flight was the lack of an on line check-in option. This may have been user error, but I travel a fair bit and it wasn’t obvious. At Gatwick, I used self-service check-in, which was quick and easy. The same wasn’t true for my return from (JFK), where I used a kiosk and went to security, where I was told I needed a hand luggage approval stamp on my boarding card. If there is a process that needs to be followed, it helps if you tell the passenger in advance.
I returned to check in (at (JFK)) and joined a huge queue. When I got to the desk, I was told extremely bluntly that my cabin bag was too heavy and had to go in the hold. This was not at all unexpected (I'd anticipated it when I booked), but the abruptness was absolutely unnecessary. The check in experience definitely needs work.
Back to my outbound flight and, at Gatwick, the boarding process was smooth and tightly managed. Once on board, Norwegian did something I’ve not experienced with any other airline; they promoted their aircraft. The main automated briefing explained the benefits of the 787 in simple, passenger-friendly terms (including its cabin altitude, the “sunglasses mode” dimmable windows and even where the toilets are located. Passengers are unlikely to know the benefits of a new aircraft unless you tell them. Nicely done).
They also ran through how the product works. When you change the script, people feel uncomfortable, so teaching them what to expect is helpful. Any on board purchases (including paid blankets and headphones) are made through the in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. They encourage you to use the system as though you’re ordering cinema refreshments to be delivered to your seat. It’s very slick; passengers just swipe their payment card once to pay for any extras. This is clever marketing. If you have to physically pay every time, you will spend less.
Norwegian made a name for itself by being pretty much the only European low-cost carrier to offer free WiFi on its short-haul flights, so the lack of WiFi on long-haul was a bit surprising. I typically don’t use (IFE), but I did on this flight (using my own headphones) and it worked well.
I pre-ordered food when I booked my flight and the experience was just like a regular long-haul flight, with a drinks trolley service and 2 meals delivered at the normal times. The crew (CA) were friendly and approachable.
I couldn’t fault the service I had up until this point, but the extremely high standard set by the outbound flight made the return very disappointing. 3 days before my departure from New York, I was told that the return flight would be operated by an A330 from Spanish wet-lease operator Wamos Air. Wamos who? I had ever heard of this airline, although I knew their predecessor brand, Air Pullmantur.
To be fair on Norwegian, I was given fair warning and the option of free rebooking or a refund. “The in-flight entertainment is limited,” they said, and I was sent a text message giving me a link to download some content. By limited, they meant none. Not only no seatback screens, but no central screens, airline-supplied portable devices, or anything at all, not even a headphone jack. I haven’t had that on a long-haul flight since the 1980s.
The Wamos flight was lacking in terms of basic in-flight comfort too. It was an overnight flight, but there weren’t even blankets or pillows. Paid or unpaid, it wasn’t an option in economy. These absolute basics were only available for business passengers. Meanwhile, meals were served to everyone, whether you’d paid or not. Wamos Air is simply not equipped to replicate Norwegian’s buy on board model.
Norwegian has had the Wamos Air A330 on wet lease since March 31, covering London - New York for a 787 which is undergoing repairs and won’t be back in service until April 24. A Norwegian spokesperson said the airline wanted to offer passengers an option to fly, rather than cancelling the service outright. The airline apologised for the change and accepted that it may not meet customer expectations.
I was very satisfied with my booking experience, the outbound flight in its entirety and the level of communication from Norwegian. The return was disappointing (and would have been worse on a non-night flight) but this wasn’t Norwegian’s normal product.
I would fly with Norwegian on long-haul again without hesitation and would even re-route to use them, within reason. They’ve set the bar high for their more expensive rivals, who are right to be worried about this relative newcomer’s expansion. Forget about politics, let the market decide.
News Item A-4: Low-cost carrier (LCC) Norwegian (NWG) has secured board approval on plans to launch Latin American startup Norwegian Air Argentina. (NWG) established an Argentinian subsidiary in January 2017 and has submitted an air operator’s certificate (AOC) application to the government. “In the application, (NWG) outlines plans for a considerable operation, including domestic and international flights,” (NWG) said on May 9.
In this latest development, (NWG) has given the green light for Norwegian Air Argentina’s “plans of operation.” “Following today’s board approval, (NWG) will immediately begin to hire administrative staff in Argentina. Recruitment of crew will commence in late summer. Pending government approval, the 1st new routes will be announced and available for sale by year-end 2017,” (NWG) said. Norwegian Air Argentina does not have an official start date yet, as it is dependent on government approvals.
“Argentina is an interesting market with great potential that fits Norwegian (NWG)’s global strategy very well, combining affordable domestic and international flights. I am looking forward to continue working on realizing our plans of establishing new bases, hiring many new colleagues in Argentina and not least offering low fares to the people. We have been very well received by Argentinian authorities and look forward to a fruitful relationship going forward,” Norwegian Air Argentina (CEO) Ole Christian Melhus said.
(NWG)/(NAI)/(NUK) operates 450 routes to 140 destinations in Europe, the USA and Asia, carrying almost 30 million passengers in 2016.
May 2017: 737-4Q8 (24332, LY-GTW) ex-(OM-GTA), GetJet Airlines leased, 3 737-8JP (42087, EI-FVS, "Benito Perez Galdos - Spanish Author;" 42279, EI-FVR "Karin Boye - Swedish Author;" 42280 EI-FVT - "Bobby Moore - British Footballer" deliveries. A320-214 (936, ES-SAO) ex-(YL-LCK), SmartLynx Airlines Estonia leased.
July 2017: "(EC) Official to USA: Resolve Norwegian UK Application Soon" by (ATW) Karen Walker email@example.com, July 11, 2017.
Europe will begin the arbitration process over Norwegian UK’s (NUK) application to serve USA routes if the USA does not soon approve the application, a senior European Commission (EC) official warned this week.
(NUK) has been waiting 1 year-and-a-half for a USA Department of Transportation (DOT) response to its application for a foreign air permit. Some USA airlines and labor groups oppose (NUK)’s application, even though it falls within the remit of the European Union (EU) -USA "Open Skies" agreement.
The USA delay in ruling on the application echoes the long stalling over Ireland-based Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) foreign air carrier permit, which was also opposed by USA majors and union groups and took 3 years for the (DOT) to approve. Eventually, frustrated by the inaction, the (EC) gave notice it would launch arbitration. The (DOT) awarded the permit later that year, almost 3 years after it was submitted.
(NUK) and (NAI) are subsidiaries of Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG).
Speaking at the International Aviation Club in Washington on July 10, (EC) Director General Transport & Mobility, Henrik Hololei stressed the importance of the 10-year (EU) - USA "Open Skies" agreement and said the (EC) would strongly defend its principles and not allow a piecemeal approach to it. He said he “sincerely hoped” that lessons were learned from the (NAI) application, which was “very painful,” but noted the (NUK) application had now been pending for one-and-a-half years. “There is little doubt we will take up arbitration if this application is not processed and I would invite USA authorities to resolve this issue as soon as possible,” he said.
Hololei praised the (EU) - USA "Open Skies" agreements as an accomplishment that needed to be “cherished and protected,” but which must also adapt to a rapidly changing environment. He said the agreement had served the (EU) and the USA well, with 55 million passengers in the transatlantic market today, which is still the most developed market.
He said it was time “to be bold and not inward looking or protectionist,” and to use the agreement as a tool to address current and future aviation needs. Among areas where bold change should be discussed, Hololei proposed, was airline ownership control rules.
Click below for photos:
1 737-4Q8 (24332, LY-GTW) EX-(OM-GTA), GETJET AIRLINES LEASED 2017-05.
1 737-8FZ (31713, EI-FHH), 189Y.
18 737-8JP (CFM56-3) (39011, EI-FHD; 39012, EI-FHA; 39020, EI-FHY; 39021, EI-FHS; 39045, EI-FHR; 39046, EI-FHN; 40865, EI-FHP; 40867, EI-FHP; 41140, EI-FHK; 42069, EI-FHJ; 42070, EI-FHM; 42078, EI-FHL; 42079, /16 EI-FJT "FREDERIKA BREMER" 2016-08; 42082, /16 EI-FJZ, 2016-12; 42083, EI-FVH, /17 "JEAN SIBELIUS - FINNISH COMPOSER" 2017-01; 42087, EI-FVS "BENITO PEREZ GALDOS," 2017-05; 42273, EI-FJU, 2016-08; 42274, EI-FVI, 2017-01; 42275, EI-FVJ "AMY JOHNSON - BRITISH AVIATOR," 2017-02; 42276, EI-FVK "DIRCH PASSER - DANISH ACTOR & COMEDIAN," 2017-02; 42084, EI-FVL "ROSLIA DE CASTYRO - SPANISH AUTHOR," 2017-02; 42279, EI-FVR "KARIN BOYE - SWEDISH AUTHOR;" 42280 EI-FVT - "BOBBY MOORE - BRITISH FOOTBALLER"), LSD 2015-11, EX-(LN-DYH, LN-DYJ, LN-DYL, LN-NGI). 189Y.
1 737-8JP (CFM56-3) (39434, EI-GBI), EX-(LN-NIF), (AWAS) (AWW) LEASED. 189Y.
1 737-8Q8 (CFM56-3) (35283, EI-FHB) BECAME (PK-CRC) 2016-12.
1 737-86N (CFM56-3) (36809, EI-GBB), EX-(LN-NOF) 2017-03.
1 737-86N (CFM56-3) (35647, EI-FHO) 189Y.
2 737-86N (CFM56-3) (36820, EI-FJR; 37844, EI-FHG), 186Y.
5 737-800 (CFM56-3) (42082, EI-FJZ; 42083, EI-FVH; 42271, EI-FJX; 42272, EI-FJY; 42286, EI-FJW), 189Y.
3 737-800 (CFM56-3) (42274, EI-FVI; 42775, EI-FVJ; 42776, EI-FVK), 186Y.
1 757-204 (RB211-535E4) (520-26966, /92 G-LSAM), (JT2) WET-LSD 2011-03. ETOPS EQ'PD. 229Y.
1 757-236 (RB211-535E4) (292-24793, /90 G-LSAJ), (JT2) WET-LSD 2008-05. ETOPS EQ'PD. 229Y.
5 +2 ORDERS 787-808 DREAMLINER (TRENT 1000) (34796, EI-LNE "ROALD AMUNDSEN - NORWEGIAN EXPLORER" 2014-04; 35304, EI-LNA "SONIA HENIE - NORWEGIAN OLYMPIC CHAMPION," 35305, EI-LNB, 2013-06 - - SEE PHOTO - - "NWG-2013-06 - 1ST 787;" 35310, EI-LND; 35313, EI-LNF), (ILF) 12 YR LSD 2013-06.
1 787-808 DREAMLINER (TRENT 1000), EX-(ICE).
2 ORDERS 787-9 (TRENT 1000-TEN), (MG) AVIATION LSD:
4 ORDERS 787-9 (TRENT 1000-TEN), (ILF) LSD:
1 A320-214 (CFM56-5A1) (936, ES-SAO), LEASED FROM SMARTLYNX AIRLINES ESTONIA (2017-05).
Click below for photos:
NAI-1-BJORN KOS-2014-07-TO USA
BJORN KJOS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER (CEO), PARENT, NORWEGIAN AIR SHUTTLE.
ASGEIR NYSETH, (CEO) NORWEGIAN AIR INTERNATIONAL (NAI).
TORSTEIN HOAS, FLIGHT OPERATIONS DIRECTOR.
THOMAS RAMDAHL, CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER (CCO).