Norse Atlantic Airways is delaying its first services until June, citing uncertainties in international air travel that have been caused by the war in Ukraine. The Norwegian start-up now plans to launch ticket sales to the US in April, it said in an update on March 15. Norse Atlantic delays launch until June.
The carrier has been preparing for launch since early 2021. The original plan was to start long-haul, low-cost services to the US in the final quarter of last year. As the pandemic continued and Omicron became dominant, the launch was delayed until the first quarter and then the second quarter of 2022. In January, the US Department of Transportation granted Norse landing rights into the US.
Norse had applied for services to New York, Fort Lauderdale, and Los Angeles. It will announce details of its network when it opens ticket sales in April, having the flexibility to adapt to unforeseen events. Like the crisis in Ukraine and the effect this has on fuel prices and operating costs for all airlines. In a media statement, Norse CEO Bjorn Torse Larsen says: “The tragedy unfolding in Ukraine creates uncertainties within international air transport that we take seriously. Norse’s flexible fleet arrangements, low-cost base, and strong financial foundation allow us to take a careful approach to launch. We are in a unique position as we have not yet started flying, which gives us the advantage to enter the market cautiously in line with demand and quickly adapt to unforeseen events. A gradual approach where ramp-up is exclusively driven by demand will enable us to preserve our strong, debt-free balance sheet and cost base.”
Slots secured at London Gatwick
While based in Oslo, Norse plans to offer services from Paris and London as soon as the market situation allows. The start-up has secured slots at London Gatwick by the slot coordinator at no cost. It is not confirmed if these are former Norwegian Air slots, which the airline said it will no longer need all. Wizz Air said recently it had purchased ex-Norwegian slots at Gatwick.
Norse Atlantic is ready to fly when it can happen. It has taken delivery of three Boeing 787-8s and six -9s from lessors AerCap and BOC Aviation, with another six to join the airline over the coming months. All aircraft are parked in Oslo. The airline says that it is adequately staffed to operate the initial routes. It has established a pilot base in Oslo and a cabin crew base in Fort Lauderdale. With the training of more cockpit and cabin crew, the airline says it has made sure to be ready when operations start.
Norse reported a loss after tax for the February 1 to December 31, 2021 period of $15 million, of which an operating loss of $14.1 million. These are all expenses as the carrier had no revenues. It had $134.3 million in cash and cash equivalents and $120.4 million in current and non-current liabilities.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News and until July 1 2023 in a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.