As the airline takes delivery of more 787s, it plans three new long-haul routes between London Gatwick and New York (JFK), Los Angeles (LAX) and Fort Lauderdale (FLL) for summer 2014. The Gatwick services will be year round, not seasonal. One-way tickets to New York start at $240. Norwegian also plans five new European routes (Corfu, Cyprus, Santorini , Sicily, Budapest) and increases frequencies on existing ones. “There’s great demand for high quality flights at a low fare between the UK and the U.S., particularly to and from London Gatwick, where no other airline currently offers these routes. We are looking forward to welcoming many new customers on board our brand new aircraft. Launching long-haul routes between London Gatwick and the United States is also an important part of our strategy to expand internationally and get a stronger foothold in markets outside Scandinavia,” said Norwegian’s CEO Bjørn Kjos.
Mr Kjos reaffirmed the airline’s belief in the 787. When its second 787 was taken offline recently, all 787 service bulletins were performed. He described the 787 as “a fantastic aircraft” and also noted “fuel efficiency on the Dreamliner is another world”. We sense a change of tone from the earlier frustration the airline expressed with the 787. Boeing must have done some hard work fixing the aircraft and the relationship. Mr Kjos also noted that only the A350 and 787 offer the economics that enable long haul low cost services.
“This is one of the most exciting route developments since Gatwick’s change of ownership four years ago and shows the benefits to passengers of Gatwick competing with Heathrow on routes, price and service. Norwegian’s decision to re-establish London Gatwick’s links to strategic destinations in North America gives passengers, once again, real choice about how to get there and, importantly, provide options for affordable travel to popular business and leisure destinations. Norwegian’s decision to operate high quality services on new long range aircraft offering good-value fares to the US from London Gatwick is a significant industry game-changer,” said Stewart Wingate, CEO of London Gatwick.
Next up is growing Gatwick’s capacity. The airport wants to add a second runway, and if adding international service to the US grows the airports traffic because it offers low cost connections, then the need for a second runway becomes very important. Of course London is already short of runway capacity. So any new runway helps. Chances of this happening? Not too great.