On Wednesday, the first budget flight from London to South America departs from the Gatwick airport.
The rates of the 14 hours of Norwegian Air Shuttle flight to Buenos Aires start from Â£259.
The seats are tight and the food and baggage cost extra, but the no-frills flight model, so well established in short-haul routes, is becoming more and more common on long-haul flights.
A new generation of low-cost carriers, such as Norwegian, Wow, and the First shot of the old guard, such as British Airways and Air France-KLM in the sky over the Atlantic.
In fact, Norwegian has just beaten British Airways record for the fastest transatlantic flight in subsonic aircraft after one of its planes made the trip from the JFK airport in New York city to London Gatwick in just over five hours and 13 minutes.
The global growth
Norway has expanded rapidly since it began as a small regional airlines that fly between Bergen and Trondheim in 1993.
Bjorn Kjos, a former paratrooper and pilot has become Norwegian’s largest airline in Scandinavia and the third largest in the budget of the company in Europe.
The united kingdom has been at the centre of its growth plan. Flew 5.8 million passengers from the united kingdom and Ireland and launched more than 15 routes in 2017, including new routes between Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin, Cork and Shannon to the smaller of the eastern coast cities of the united states, such as Providence, Hartford and Stewart.
But it is Gatwick, which is the key to the airline’s ambitions.
While legacy carriers tend to focus on the most lucrative, but expensive take-off and landing slots at London Heathrow airport, norway recently secured an additional 28 weekly slots at Gatwick airport. It is expected to build on its existing routes to nine cities in the united states, Singapore, and now Buenos Aires.
“The uk will be at the heart of our continued global expansion, and we remain fully committed to the market. With huge global ambitions, we are confident that the uk can offer norway a springboard for further expansion.”, says 71-year-old Mr. Kjos.
He is talking to the journalists on the 24th floor of the Shard skyscraper in central London. The message is not subtle. Norway has impressive ambitions.
Won the prestigious ‘Airline of the Year” prize of the LAYER of the Aviation Awards for Excellence. The judges commenting: “norway has opened a path that others are following. The impact on the new North Atlantic traffic in what was previously considered as a mature market and has already been remarkable.”
Analysis: By Simon Calder, travel expert
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then British Airways ‘ parent company, IAG, is the payment from norway a lot of compliments.
First duplicate of Norwegian routes such as Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale in Florida and Barcelona, spain to Oakland, California. Now BA engineers are busy squeezing an extra 52 seats on the Gatwick-based Boeing 777 aircraft. The specific objective of “densification”: to reduce the BA per-passenger costs then Norwegian 787s.
Four decades ago, Sir Freddie Laker provoked alarm among transatlantic airlines with your cut-price Skytrain, which went bankrupt in 1982. The aviation pioneer went to his grave in 2006, convinced that the rivals had ganged up in a bitter price war to force Laker Airways out of business. But the ambitious expansion project during a global recession, also made the airline vulnerable.
Last year, Bjorn Kjos, CEO of Norwegian, a tribute to Sir Freddie in the rear deck of a transatlantic Boeing. He must be hoping for calmer skies.
Norwegian’s pricing strategy is based on the flight of a young fleet of aircraft such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which consume less fuel per passenger in comparison with other long-distance aircraft.
These offer passengers a luxury experience they have come to expect from a budget airline with a modern interior and the benefit of free wifi connection.
This has especially appealed to the millennial travelers and the airline has configured its planes to carry more passengers in tourist class, in search of adventures at bargain prices.
The airline has sold fares as low as Â£69 ($95) for some transatlantic flights, but passengers would have to pay for add-ons such as checked baggage, onboard food and a reserved seat.
Another way of norway reduces costs is to fly to secondary airports, where landing fees are much lower, and the pursuit of niche routes where there is a gap. For example, instead of flying to San Francisco, Norwegian flies to near Oakland. BA ‘comeback’
With the competition heating, legacy carriers such as BA have been criticised for trying to keep prices low, thanks to the constant cutting back on “luxuries”.
But they have also struggled to try to beat a low-cost long-distance competitors by launching their own services.
Last year, BA owner launched Level, a new trans-Atlantic budget airline.
Air France-KLM has launched its own long-distance budget carrier Joon, aimed at “a younger working clientele whose lifestyles revolve around digital technology”.Growing up too fast?
But despite the imitations, Norwegian’s rapid rise has led some to wonder whether their financial model is sustainable.
At the end of 2019, Norwegian’s fleet will have increased to 193, and the airline has borrowed to a large extent to the purchase of new aircraft.
Aviation analyst John Strickland warns that: “They have not delivered the profit margins you would like to see, especially when compared with British Airways or Ryanair.
“They’re going to have to work extra hard to prove that they have a sustainable model and can withstand the many storms that an airline may face, such as economic recessions or of a small number of passengers after a terror attack”
As expected, in the competitive world of commercial aviation, the Norwegian found the target of his rivals in other ways.
Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost airline, has rejected transatlantic routes because it says that you can not get the planes at a price to make the numbers work
Last year, her outspoken chief executive, Michael O’leary, ruffled feathers by questioning Norwegian survival.
“Both the Monarch and norway are in trouble. It is an open secret among airlines the Monarch, and the Norwegian can’t survive during the winter. They are burning cash.”
Monarch collapsed months later. Norway still flying and expanding. Stay lucky
Bjorn Kjos seems to take pride in all the predictions of the decay. Some argue that it has only been luck, but for the seventy-year-old that has changed the rules of flight, he does not think that is lucky.
“Yes it is hard, but you have to the ramp before starting to fly. It takes time to build a network. After a large investment, you will not be able to pay the same after a month.
“People have to know that they are flying everywhere. And when they do, then you are the winner.”