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NUK-2017-09 - LGW to Singapore.jpg
Formed in 2015. Domestic, regional and international, passenger and cargo jet airplane operations.
5th Floor International House
1 St. Katherine's Way
London E1W 1AY, England, UK.
News Item A-1: "London to 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 to 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 to Singapore, which is also Norwegian (NWG)/(NUK)’s 1st UK to 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-2: "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 (NUK) wasn’t the only option for my London to 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 (NUK) did something I’ve not experienced with any other airline; they promoted their airplane. 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 airplane 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 (NWG) made a name for itself by being pretty much the only European low cost carrier (LCC) 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 (PLL). Wamos who? I had never heard of this airline, although I knew their predecessor brand, Pullmantur Air (PLL).
To be fair on Norwegian (NUK), I was given fair warning and the option of free re-booking 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 seat back 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 Air (PLL) 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 (Y). These absolute basics were only available for business (C) passengers. Meanwhile, meals were served to everyone, whether you’d paid or not. Wamos Air (PLL) is simply not equipped to replicate Norwegian (NUK)’s "buy on board" model.
Norwegian (NUK) has had the Wamos Air (PLL) A330 on wet lease since March 31, covering London to New York for a 787 which is undergoing repairs and won’t be back in service until April 24. A (NUK) spokesperson said (NUK) wanted to offer passengers an option to fly, rather than cancelling the service outright. (NUK) apologized 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 (NUK). The return was disappointing (and would have been worse on a non-night flight) but this wasn’t Norwegian (NUK)’s normal product.
I would fly with Norwegian (NUK) 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-3: 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: 1 787-8 (38891, G-CJUI "Karen Blixen - Danish Author"), (Charleston #174), Avolon 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.
September 2017: News Item A-1: USA authorities have granted permission to budget airline Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWG)'s British subsidiary Norwegian UK (NUK) to fly to and from USA cities, a boost to a company trying to crack the transatlantic market by undercutting established rivals.
(NWG), Europe's 3rd-largest budget airline by passenger numbers after Ryanair (RYR) and EasyJet (EZY) could already fly to and from the USA on its Norwegian and Irish operating licenses.
The permit now granted to its British company by the USA Department of Transportation allows (NUK) to expand its operations at London's Gatwick airport. "With a USA foreign carrier permit also now received for (NUK), Norwegian will be able to establish a seamless operation and more effectively utilize its long-haul fleet."
Norwegian Air (NWG) said the decision would mean it would add "thousands more jobs" to the 1,000 pilots (FC) and crew (CA) already working for (NUK) from Gatwick, offer new routes and cheaper fares. It is a boost at a time when the airline is under pressure to control costs and shore up its balance sheet to weather fierce competition.
Norwegian Air (NWG) has embarked on an ambitious expansion plan, buying >200 new fuel-efficient jets, yet investors worry its drive to put more passengers on more planes is pushing up costs quickly without producing higher returns.
Doubts are creeping in because (NWG)'s fate rests on the still unproven strategy of adapting the success of low-cost short-haul travel to long-haul routes.
(NWG)'s shares are down -26% over the past year and have been the subject of heavy short-selling in recent months. Countering those doubts, (NWG)'s (CEO) and Chairman raised their holdings in the company by +10% on September 14.
News Item A-2: Norwegian (NWG)/(NUK) on September 28 launched its Asian route from London Gatwick, a 10,885 km link to Singapore. (NUK) will connect London Gatwick with 4x-weekly flights to Singapore, becoming (NUK)’s 2nd destination in Asia after Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, with Norwegian already linking the Thai capital to its Copenhagen, Oslo Gardermoen and Stockholm Arlanda bases. The new 12 hour 45 minute flight from Gatwick to Singapore was the world’s longest route operated by a low cost carrier (LCC).
Between January and August this year, 885,781 passengers have traveled non-stop between the UK and Singapore according to UK (CAA) statistics, up +1.9% from the 869,619 that flew directly between the 2 nations in the same 8 months of 2016. For all of 2016, the UK (CAA) stated that 1,296,239 flew between the 2 countries directly, up +2.9% on the total of 2015, a year which saw 1,259,190 non-stop passengers. This was another year of growth, with 2015 traffic up +2.5% on the total of 1,228,087 seen in 2014. So Norwegian is clearly entering a growing, sustainable market. However, competition will increase from next summer for Norwegian when Qantas (QAN) returns to the London to Singapore market as it moves its stopover from Dubai to the Asian city on March 25. In March 2018, Qantas (QAN) will start Perth to London, to become the world's longest 787 flight, surpassing previously longest United Airlines (UAL)'s Singapore to San Francisco.
February 2018: News Item A-1: Norwegian (NWG)/(NUK) has grown its long-haul network from London Gatwick (LGW) with its 1st route to Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE). The new year-round service, which commenced on February 14, will be operated 4x-weekly by (NWG)/(NUK)’s 787-9 fleet. There is no direct competition on the 11,117 km sector to the Argentinian capital city.
Norwegian (CEO) Bjorn Kjos said: “Today we have marked the start of our new expansion into South America by bringing a taste of Argentina to London Gatwick. I am delighted to bring our high quality long-haul flights to another continent as we launch the only direct flight from London Gatwick to Buenos Aires, giving leisure and business passengers affordable access to South America. Our 1st flight to Buenos Aires from the UK marks another milestone for Norwegian. As our 1st South American route takes off, it is also a 1st step towards ambitious plans for international and domestic growth in Argentina, ahead of flights to Chicago and Austin from London Gatwick next month.”
Gatwick Airport (CEO) Stewart Wingate said: “The launch of Norwegian’s 1st ever South American route is another exciting landmark in Gatwick’s ongoing mission to connect the UK to more and more long-haul destinations. The airport now offers 63 long-haul connections (with many, including Buenos Aires, operated by low-cost carriers (LCC) making Gatwick the busiest departure airport for low-cost long-haul services in the world. We’re going to continue breaking new ground this year and remain focused on strengthening Gatwick’s global reach at a time when world wide connections are crucial for the UK.”
Buenos Aires will be Norwegian’s 11th sector launched from Gatwick in the past 4 years and by the end of March, the (LCC) will become the 2nd largest long-haul airline at the airport, with 13 direct long-haul routes following the launch of Buenos Aires, Chicago and Austin in March, and Singapore in September.
May 2018: 787-9 (38790, G-CKWE) wet-leased from AerCap (DEA).
June 2018: 747-4H6 (25703, EC-KXN) Wamos Air (PLL) wet-leased.
September 2018: 787-8 (G-CKNA "Freddy Mercury - British Rock Legend.)" see photo.