The Rise And Rise Of Norwegian Airlines

Last week came the massive news that IAG (the owner of British Airways and Iberia) has purchased a minority stake in Norwegian with potential to takeover the entire airline.

You would have to have been living under a rock not to have heard about the growth of Norwegian Airlines, particularly over the past 2 years. I feel like not a month goes by without another new long-haul route announcement.

There are dozens and dozens of low cost airlines in Europe, and most have a pretty awful reputation. While I don’t mind flying Ryanair, I avoid Wizz and Vueling wherever I can because I’ve had several unpleasant experiences on both.

One of the things that makes Norwegian unique is they have a fantastic reputation in Europe. Everyone I speak to genuinely enjoys flying them, for reasons I hear over and over again:

  • Lovely staff
  • Free wifi
  • Modern, comfortable aircraft
  • Relaxed hand baggage rules
  • It doesn’t feel like a low cost carrier

I haven’t yet flown JetBlue, but understand they have a similar reputation in North America.

As well as their impressive shorthaul operations in Europe (and oddly enough, the Caribbean), Norwegian have been growing their longhaul route network, particularly from London Gatwick to the US. This has been at an astonishing (and perhaps unsustainable) rate, as they rapidly take the keys to a growing fleet of fuel efficient new Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

Norwegian’s corporate and ownership structure is confusing, but their longhaul 787 destinations from London Gatwick alone are currently as follows:

  • Austin
  • Boston
  • Buenos Aires
  • Chicago
  • Denver
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • New York City
  • Oakland
  • Orlando
  • Seattle
  • Singapore

Norwegian also operate longhaul services from Oslo, Paris, Copenhagen, Rome, and Stockholm to the United States.

Norwegian’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner destinations from London to North America

Worrying their competitors

While Norwegian have chosen secondary airports at some destinations to reduce landing fees, like Oakland instead of San Francisco, and Fort Lauderdale instead of Miami, they also compete directly with full service carriers like British Airways and American Airlines. And this is no more notable than on the prized London to New York route, which is one of the most competitive but also most profitable medium-haul routes in the world.

Norwegian’s full-efficient aircraft, high-density seating, and low operating costs mean they can offer seats at a lower price than their full service competitors. At least to those passengers who are willing to forego the luxuries of lounge access, flat-beds and champagne.

Daniel has reviewed Norwegian premium before and found it perfectly acceptable as a premium economy product. Last year I flew Norwegian from London to Boston after seeing a sale fare that was too good to pass up. The flight was barely 6 hours, and during the day. I had a great experience and would happily fly them on a similar length route again.

Although I’m not sure I could handle a 13 hour overnight flight to Singapore or Buenos Aires.

Norwegian have their competitors so worried that British Airways made (what I consider to be) a tactical error in actually measuring their seat costs against Norwegian at their investor day last year. This means that even though the two airlines are completely different, and offer very different value propositions, BA are worried enough about Norwegian’s growth that they feel they need to compete. And they’ve already given up on one route.

And with Boeing 777s configured with nine-across in economy, British Airways has realised they can’t compete –- Norwegian’s cost base is lower, and you don’t hear people complain about Norwegian like they do about BA!

All of which helps to explain their recent surprising minority investment in Norwegian.

Longhaul on a narrowbody — a step too far?

Last year Norwegian took ownership of their first of several Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, whose extended range have the capability of connecting certain parts of (very) Western Europe, and (very) Eastern North America.

Norwegian decided to link cities/towns that had not previously had transatlantic flights as these were just within the limits of this new aircraft. This strategy has had mixed success.

While it’s easier to fill a 737 than a 787, there are limited population catchments in some of these smaller towns. While landing fees would have been reduced, if not waived to entice Norwegian to commence services, Norwegian may have overestimated the desire of their passengers to land in airports that are a long distance from the major cities they may be visiting, Ryanair-style.

I would need an enormous cost savings to land in, say Stewart Airport and then face a 90+ minute journey into New York City after spending 6+ hours cooped up in a 737.

Norwegian’s ambitious 737-MAX route network

Sustainable?

All these new planes aren’t cheap.

Norwegian is spending a lot of money very quickly, which has led Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary to claim they are running out of money so fast that they will be out of business in months. And unlike Ryanair or easyJet, Norwegian aren’t currently profitable.

I don’t believe they’re about to collapse, but I’m not sure their pace can continue.

Where to next?

Out of London at least, Norwegian seems to have been just copying British Airways and Virgin Atlantic’s US route map one route at a time. And in the case of British Airways at least, there are still plenty of routes left to copy and launch. A slowing in expansion might indicate some signs of financial stress but that’s yet to be seen.

British Airways has begun densifying their Gatwick based 777s to lower their seat costs to a level they believe is lower than Norwegian’s. But most of British Airways’ Gatwick-based 777s operate longhaul flights from London to the Caribbean and Central America, which Norwegian have not yet set their sights on.

British Airways, through their IAG parent have launched LEVEL, a Spain-based low cost, longhaul airline that will attempt to challenge Norwegian, especially where they can beat Norwegian to the punch to launch particular routes.

Before last week’s news I imagined the long-term strategy was for LEVEL to launch flights from London Gatwick to compete directly with Norwegian but I think this will struggle. Norwegian already has such a great reputation with UK and US travellers that a watered-down BA substitute will not be an attractive alternative, even if it’s slightly cheaper. Personally, I have absolutely no plans to fly LEVEL.

Norwegian also have some very ambitious goals to build an Argentinian base and launch some truly obscure routes.

I don’t believe they fully understand the markets they are considering launching into, as Perth to Singapore is already well serviced by low cost carriers like Jetstar and I’m not sure Norwegian will be able to compete on price for a relatively short flight.

Norwegian premium class

BA-Norway?

The recent news that British Airways may be considering acquiring Norwegian is so disappointing for Norwegian’s customers. If the acquisition does happen I could see one of three scenarios for Norwegian’s longhaul planes (and routes) where British Airways/IAG Group either:

  1. Kill it off and convert the 787s to British Airways mainline
  2. Convert the planes to LEVEL/Vueling and maintain the routes
  3. Keep Norwegian operating based on its good reputation but use IAG’s economies of scale and experience to make Norwegian more profitable

As much as I wish it was Option 3, I’m guessing it will be Option 1. Option 2 would likely evolve into Option 1 regardless, as LEVEL and Vueling have such a poor reputation that hugely growing their fleet wouldn’t be sustainable.

If Norwegian’s financial position is as bad as Michael O’Leary (and some analysts) predict, their shareholders would be crazy not to accept a takeover offer from IAG. IAG are shrewd for considering such a move.

Bottom line

I can’t think of a long-haul airline in the past 12 months that has grown at the speed that Norwegian have, although WOW Air may have their eye on that title this year.

We don’t know their financial situation, but they are just going from strength to strength and I’m looking forward to more flights on “the low-cost-carrier that doesn’t feel like a low-cost-carrier”, while keeping my fingers crossed that IAG don’t acquire them.

Have you flown Norwegian longhaul? What was your experience?

Comments

  1. Coming from London, I could see why you wouldn’t want to land at an airport like Stewart, but between Boston and New York, SWF, BDL, and PVD serve millions of Americans in one never ending suburb. Those airports already cater to leisure travelers going to places like Florida because no one wants to deal with going into JFK/LGA/EWR or BOS. Adding Europe on a smaller capacity plane makes could very well make sense, at least during busy travel seasons.

  2. New york to London is a bloodbath in terms of profitability. It’s far from one of the most profitable medium haul routes, similar to transcon flights like JFK LAX which also fall into the “subpar profitability” category but are required routes to keep business contracts

  3. Living in Sweden and actually working with Norwegian as a client, I can state that they have a somewhat dire financial status. Newspapers here are running stories that the airline is running out of money, and we require pre-payment from them now. Also, they don’t have a particulary good reputation here for long haul travel. Pretty much everyone prefer SAS and complain about Norwegian’s seats and service.

    Btw, I think there’s a typo – it’s supposed to be fuel-efficient, not full-efficient.

  4. I’m genuinely surprised to hear that you prefer Ryanair to Vueling. I can’t think of a single semi-pleasant experience I’ve had with Ryanair, while with Vueling every flight has at least been civilized.

  5. Very informative article.

    I find that Norwegian has a better reputation because they don’t pretend they aren’t a low cost, whereas BA keep priding themselves on their service and quality. It’s honestly weird to see an airline so easily give BA so much trouble.

  6. And, I wish we could move past this IAG is BA crap. BA is not considering a bid for Norwegian.

    If they’ve done nothing else over t he last couple of years IAG have kept airlines seperate. spending a couple of billion on an airline and then running it down would be (a) completely bat **** crazy and (b) **** off their shareholders no end.

    If, and it’s a big if, IAG get their hands on Norwgian, I’d envisage them folding Level, Vueling and Norwegian into one. Or, turn Norwegian into a JetBlue clone and leave Vueling to compete with the ULCC.

    Without investment Norwegian is gone in 3 years. With IAG and Qatar, behind it it has a chance.

  7. Your “737-MAX route network” map is not including all routes but rather routes from the UK only.

    For instance, Norwegian also operates the 737-MAX out of Bergen, Norway (BGO) to several US destinations.

  8. Your British-English shifts to American-English near the end… ie. From Norweign have been expanding… to Norweign has been expanding…
    Interesting.

  9. I understand that you’re a travel blogger and not a business writer, but it’s a bit rosy-colored to not see the obvious financial train wreck ahead. In a year of industry record profits, they’re bleeding money. If I started a business in a competitive industry and sold below cost to consumers, it would be popular. Unfortunately, at some point, capital stops flowing if there is no ROI and the music stops. See 1997-2001 for details…and then log-on to pets.com and buy some dog food.

  10. BC, its 2018, not 1999. Spending money to build a customer base with no profits in sight is how the world operates. Amazon, Twitter, Snapshat, Instagram, Moviepass, HQ Trivia…

  11. Grammar is not correct

    “Norwegian aren’t” is a common subject-noun error, as Norwegian Airlines is a singular subject. The correct way of describing them is “Norwegian isn’t”

  12. Less than a week in and I’m very pleased with the work James has done—very informative and interesting material.

  13. DFW is clearly shown on the LGW services map, but not included in your list of destinations. Sloppy.

  14. Most (not all, but most) of your list have demonstrated that they can run their businesses in an EBITDA positive way if they did not plow money into rapid growth and new lines. Norwegian shows no core of operational profitability. It looks more like Peoples Express to me.

  15. Vastly overlooked for carriers like Norwegian are routes to U.S. cities from Europe which are not under or have no non-stop service. Memphis, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Columbus, St. Louis, Kansas City, Birmingham, Richmond, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Little Rock, Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, Boise, Omaha, Des Moines, Anchorage, Sacramento, Albuquerque, Tuscon, El Paso, San Antonio, Louisville, Charleston, Tallahassee, New Orleans, Tulsa, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Harrisburg, Trenton, Raleigh-Durham, Columbia, Bakersfield, Ontario, Fresno, Wichita, Nashville. These are locations that a carrier like Norwegian should be picking up. Plenty of opportunity in America to get creative. Creating new air routes where they are the only player, that’s what should separate Norwegian from the pack. Point-to-point is what Boeing and the airlines were screaming about with the advent of the 787. Well, it’s here and now, so use it. Why shouldn’t someone in Omaha be able to fly to London non-stop instead of doing the tyranny of the mega-hub transfer.

  16. The reason people aren’t complaining as much about Norwegian as BA is probably because Norwegian fares are severely discounted for a lesser product. The reason many complain about BA is because they charge top price for premium cabin fare for a substandard product. Paying less to get less is okay but paying more to get less is not what most sane people would do, especially those who read this blog!

  17. @James, would you consider writing about what is happening with Berlin’s new airport that seems like it will never open. It’s a very interesting topic that many OMAAT readers (including myself) probably don’t know a ton about.

  18. They are not called Norwegian Airlines, and never have been. The company is is called Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, and trades under the name Norwegian. If you go the websites it is generally just shown as Norwegian.

    They have the subsidiaries Norwegian Long Hail, Norwegian Air UK, Norwegian Air Argentina. But so far, no Norwegian Airlines. 🙂

  19. “We don’t know their financial situation…”

    Actually, we do. Norwegian is a publically traded company listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. Their financial reports indicate that they lost money last year, in a year of record profits for most airlines. IAG had a profit of €3 billion on revenue of just under €23 billion.

    This post illustrates how miles and points bloggers often lack any expertise to evaluate airlines as businesses. For anyone interested in the business side of airlines, I recommend The Cranky Flier blog, whose author has an MBA and used to work on the business side of an airline. Brett knows his stuff.

  20. You’re missing the Barcelona to LAX flight in your article.

    I think option 2 is more realistic as IAG would have more favorable labor conditions with the low cost airlines. It’s easier to start a new airline with a new contract than get unions to accept a pay cut, hence the proliferation of low coast carriers such as Joon, Rouge, Vueling, LEVEL, Germanwings. Once the low cost carrier is established they can start directing more resources there and just stop adding to the legacy fleet.

  21. James-

    Welcome to OMAAT-and the needlessly picky people that read it. This was interesting and informative and I’ve been wondering about Norwegian since “Rednose” recently started flying in to my home airport of ORD. Looking forward to more posts and congrats!

  22. Norwegian who? Do they have F or C class service?..well, than not my taste, although Norwegians are mmhhh….

  23. @ John — This is a common way of referencing companies in British/Australian vernacular, and we’ve decided to let it stand for James’s posts.

  24. Does anyone have any info on when and if they will be flying out of Toronto? Apparently it was to start this July, its getting kind of close with no up to date info anywhere.

  25. Stewart (SWF) is more convenient to those in Westchester County and north of NYC. At 90 minutes, it is only about 30 minutes longer than taking the subway from JFK to Manhattan.

    SWF doesn’t seem too bad. I want to try it but there is very limited domestic service.

  26. @ James
    “LEVEL [has] such a poor reputation that hugely growing their fleet wouldn’t be sustainable”

    Is that right? I haven’t heard much at all about LEVEL (whereas Veuling is notoriously crappy).

    @Tiffany
    All of James’ posts have attracted snippy comments from people criticising his use of British & Australian English. I find his writing refreshing. And there may even be a clue in the word “English” that the American version is not the only possible one or even necessarilynrhe first.

  27. Yes please James write about the abysmal failure of Berlin Brandenburg (one of the greatest haunted airports ever) and contrast it to the gross hell that is Schöneberg as well as the tiny little cramped Tegel that oddly enough has a contact lens vending machine on the lower level.

    PS BA would love to acquire all those bedbug-free 787s

  28. @Keven L
    I agree. Use the 787’s to their full potential. One example is Phoenix. Its is the nations 5th largest metro area yet only BA flies nonstop to Europe. Daily 747-400 with a a second 747-400 three days a week from spring to early fall. Fares are higher on BA to Europe from Phoenix than any of their west coast gateways and award availability in premium classes is almost non existent from Phoenix. That means their yields must be pretty decent. The only other flight to Europe is Condor who will start 3 days a week to Frankfurt summer only. I would prefer a nonstop choice to Europe out of Phoenix if traveling in economy rather than backtracking to crazy LAX or stopping in Chicago or New York. In picking some of their routes I think they are not trying hard enough.

  29. @ Tom
    The last time I counted, BA flew non-stop to 23 US cities from London. The US3 between them flew to a grand total of … 8.

    Someone clearly isn’t trying very hard, but I’m not sure it’s BA.

  30. So you can’t spend 5 minutes googling their finances to know they are having severe financial issues? If you are going to write about something you should spend a few minutes researching the topic.

  31. Before writing an article on your opinion, you should probably have checked NAIs financial statements and seen that it was either IAG or Lufthansa that were going to buy the airline…

  32. @James.

    A bit sloppy when it comes to the name James. It’s Norwegian Air Shuttle as others have pointed out.

    Back in the dawn of time, pre jet age there was a company called Norwegian Air Lines
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norwegian_Air_Lines

    The call sign these days is Scandinavian, and I think SK still owns the rights to the name Norwegian Air Lines.

    As I said sloppy writing.

  33. @The nice Paul
    Sorry if I din’t explain myself well. I didn’t mean BA wasn’t trying hard enough. I meant Norwegian and the likes of WOW and such. I think they are missing some low hanging fruit in choosing other smaller cities or those with excessive competition already.

  34. Jetstar actually just dropped their A320 direct Perth-Singapore flight and Scoot fares are extremely low and that’s with plenty of connection opportunities onward from SIN, so I am sure we won’t see them on that route!

    Their performance on the Gatwick to JFK route that they subbed out to Hi Fly has been shocking and must be costing them a fortune in EU claims (seems like Hi Fly has two very tech A330s!)

  35. This article isn’t entirely accurate when it says “you don’t hear people complain about Norwegian like they do about BA”. I’m not defending BA, but Norwegian have had a lot of irregular ops issues and don’t have the slack in the fleet to deal with it properly. There have been instances of last minute subs on Portuguese-registered planes to cover for maintenance issues or long delays on the 787 fleet. The majority of those delays have been reported out of LGW, arguably, Norwegian’s most crucial base. I flew Norwegian twice in 2017 (SXF to BGO) and (ARN-JFK). Both times, the flights were delayed (SXF to BGO, by an hour) and ARN-JFK, we had to go back to the gate for what turned out to be a short delay needed to reboot the 787-8’s computer. Nothing out of the ordinary and the flights were otherwise nice. Free WIFI on the 737 to BGO, clean, modern, and reasonably comfortable 787s on the TATL route but an economic downturn or a fuel spike will probably mean the end of Norwegian as an independent carrier.

  36. @James please correct me if I am wrong. Maybe the 737 MAX may not be that bad for six hours. I believe Delta (I have seen it before on the map provided by Travelocity as well as being a part of it on a connecting flight) that they use older 737s to fly from Seattle to Asian cities like Tokyo and HK. This should be at least on one of their flights. Not comfortable for that length of time.

  37. This is such a capital intensive industry with high fixed costs and variability of risk that I could see Norwegian needing a big cash infusion. IMHO IAG would be wise to acquire majority ownership, keep current management in place, and in the process invest capital and see if they can capitalize on the cost structure, goodwill and like an early poster mentioned leverage their economies of scale. From the outside.

    Consolidation is rarely (ever?) good for the consumer.

  38. I know nothing about their financial situation but it’s true that they’ve put the wind up BA and some other carriers. That’s good for consumers.
    Younger people might not remember Freddie Laker and his Skytrain airline from the ’70s. BA , and some cronies , co-conspirators, went to extraordinary lengths to have him squeezed out/shut down.
    It would be great if the grammar police could just STFU and bugger off. The comments detract from the enjoyment of the articles and add nothing of consequence.

  39. I had booked a PVD-BGO flight on the 737 MAX, but it seems they discontinued as I was rebooked on a BOS-LGW-BGO, so that must not have been a really profitable route.

  40. Some comments: Norwegian does not have a good reputation among travellers in Norway. At not at least among customers who flies more than a few times a year, they do prefer SAS, LH, KLM and orker full service airlines.
    And one very important thing: they are not members of IATA so they are not able (and willing) to hjelp customers when there are cancellations. Their conditions also states that there are limitations in what they offer in case of cancellations.
    After 15 years as a travel agent in Norway my experience is that the more a customes flies the wish for flying Norwegian goes down.

  41. I think there is a 4th option or at least a 3.5 and that is that IAG transition their LGW BA operations over to Norwegian to take advantage of the lower cost base. A few Caribbean flights that can fill a premium cabin may remain but all the rest become Norwegian, possibly as the aged 772s get retired.

  42. We just did a trip in Europe that included SAS premium long haul and short connection LAX-ARN-CPH, Norwegian short hop back to ARN, and a 3 hour Vueling flight to BCN. SAS and Norwegian were on par for me, I’d fly either in a heartbeat. Vueling, on the other hand, that was a disaster. Both Norwegian and Vueling advertise 30 inch pitch, but Vueling is truly a knee banger. Probably had to do with Vueling’s default seat recline which gave me a backache. We ended up flying back to the US on AA in a Concept D business class seat, which was of course much better! 🙂

  43. Another quality article you are on fire James.
    Business insider Australia in New York is after a man of your talents check it out.

  44. @JJJ your comment about building a business without a view to profit are interesting, but overlook a number of key points.

    All the companies you mention operate in industries that are new or are able to be reshaped. Aviation requires enormous capital costs, which you can’t avoid, whether you’re Ryanair or Cathay Pacific – planes ain’t cheap. And that’s before wider infrastructure costs are considered, such as airports.

    For every dot com that’s been bought for a crazy multiple of revenue or earnings, there’s a bunch that have failed.

    Any business that doesn’t make money has to rely on the whim of investors or funders, most of whom expect a return, albeit it can be through a sale, I can’t see an airline being sold for the sort of multiples snapchat made.

    More generally I would agree that some of the writing on this blog (and more so on some others) is a little simplistic on business and finance matters. But I guess ultimately that’s not what most of us are here for.

    Also @anon – an MBA does not confer expertise on anyone, as much as most holders of them like to think they do.

    And because I suspect I will be asked by someone commenting, I make my comments as a funder to, and investor in, the industry.

  45. Nice articles @James – they complement very nicely OMAAT feed. However, do you have mention in almost every single one how you are not able to handle lengthy economy flights… It’s feels like bragging and OMAAT has never been about that.

  46. Another great article James. I’m already falling in love with you.

    The question is ‘when’ IAG will take over Norwegian. Yesterday alot of media in Europe reported that IAG is set to grow its stake to 10% which puts it at a stronger negotiating position. JP Morgan is the bank that’s dealing/backing the takeover. It’ll cost IAG €4.4billion. In comparison, Aer Lingus cost only €1.5billion.

    Indeed there’s been talk in the last couple of years whether it was IAG or Lufthansa that would buy Norwegian. Lufthansa has its eyes set on SAS.

  47. Hi James,

    I generally like your articles.
    I don’t master the English language enough to get into that line of thinking.

    But as someone based in Scandinavia my picture of this airline isn’t as rosy as yours.

    They don’t have a great track record on dealing with things when the s**t hits the fan.
    Friends getting stuck overseas, not being offered hotel, no rebooking to other airlines and getting them pay according to EU law is near impossible.
    So my friends and I have less of a pink shimmer ”all is great” when we see the rednose.
    So please add more nuance.

  48. @Martti +1

    “Although I’m not sure I could handle a 13 hour overnight flight to Singapore or Buenos Aires.”

    Lines like the one above and the repeated references to not being able to take 5-6 hour flights on narrowbody aircraft (i.e. 737) in most of James’ recent articles (most of which have otherwise been really refreshing to read) do come across as rather entitled. Might want to consider leaving that out of the writing, even if you do have a personal preference and/or want to promote premium cabin travel.

  49. @ Ed – that actually wouldn’t be a bad idea as the Caribbean LGW planes are in a pretty poor state and only fly to leisure routes. However all of them have Club World (and some have F class) which would have to go if BA changed them to Norwegian.

  50. @ LNYC – I’ve had a short-haul European Norwegian flight operated by a US charter airline (I can’t remember which one) and it was perfectly fine. I know that HiFly doesn’t have a great reputation.

  51. @ No Name – Norwegian Air Shuttle is the parent company.

    They then have 4 different subsidiaries in Europe. I mentioned in the article their corporate structure was complicated. This article is focused on the ‘part’ of the Norwegian group that flies long-haul between London and North America. The subsidiary operating those flights is officially called ‘Norwegian Long Haul’.

    Everyone in the UK just refers to these flights as ‘Norwegian’. It’s already a long and fairly complicated blog-post – I didn’t want to make it even more confusing my discussing their corporate structure too much ; )

  52. @ Al, @ James, @ Pierre, @ Steven M – yes I’m happy to write about BER airport. I visit Berlin regularly and Tegel is such an amusingly outdated experience. Schonefeld’s separate, quick, HLO security entrance makes it a decent LCC airport in my opinion.
    The reason this topic hasn’t been on my list is because I thought the delays were well-known, had been covered on this site in detail before and the reasons for the delays haven’t changed for several years?

  53. @ cls – flights are due to start July 23rd but are subject to government approvals. Norwegian have decided to wait until they obtain the approvals before selling tickets.

  54. @Mark (April 19th 201 at 5:30pm)

    In terms of revenue, LON-NYC is one of the richest, if not the richest route in the world. Economy yields may not be the best but it is beyond debate that the route is very profitable.

  55. If Norwegian can compete with low cost carriers on routes in Europe, I’m sure they have a chance to compete with them on the Perth to Singapore route. Not least because it gives them global reach – you’d then be able to fly from London to Australia, there would be a lot of connecting passengers on those flights.

    Whether that’s enough to make it viable I don’t know, but I wouldn’t write it off.

  56. @ Callum – if they do it will be with a 787 (which will continue on to Argentina). The SIN-PER route is already well-serviced by LCC narrow-bodies by Tiger, full-service narrow bodies by Qantas and full-service wide-bodies by Singapore Airlines.
    Norwegian can’t beat Singapore Airlines for comfort, frequency and connections and will really struggle to complete on price with Tiger who have an extremely low cost structure and probably fall into the ULCC rather than LCC category.
    I welcome competition but I hope they understand the market.

  57. BA has just dropped Oakland over the coming winter so to say they have given up on a route is incorrect.

  58. What a bunch of assholes in the James peanut gallery. You people should all go F yourselves.

    Keep up the good content James! OMAAT should expand readership with new and refreshing content like yours, and not worry itself with narrow minded douches concerned with shit like “it’s Norwegian Air Shuttle not Norwegian Airlines.”

    Holy F, get a life people!

  59. Why did they have a different callsign on the LGW-JFK Flight? I was listening to ATC and they were “rednose” instead of “Norwegian” and even ATC controllers got confused

  60. Yeah, I standby James, and love his content that he has written so far. To all these annoying people who post stupid stuff: go back in your holes and get a life.

  61. @Stanley- Delta does not fly 737s from Seattle to Asia. They couldn’t make it. They use 737s and A330s.

    To those who think London/New York is a very profitable route, as somebody who has worked in the route profitability and network planning areas of a few airkines with a heavy presence on this route, I can tell you it’s not great. And that other routes are far more profitable

  62. @James – It’s a single route, whether it’s a big success or not doesn’t really matter.

    Norwegian beat Tiger and Scoot for comfort and beat Singapore airlines on price. This is the niche that made them so successful in Europe. I can’t see it being a roaring success, but likewise, I can’t see it being a huge failure.

  63. I wonder why they haven’t gotten themselves a credit-card backer and started selling themselves some sweet, sweet points. How can they not notice the billions in profits that other airlines drag in from selling points?

  64. I mean, Stewart Airport isn’t a bad option for us North Jersey people. Most days it’s actually closer than JFK, and if you don’t want to fly United, it’s really our only option for longhaul flights.

  65. I agree with the gratitude to Lucky for expanding the content and the “read and if your comments on the comment are purely personal, comment quietly and move in” points of view. It’s free to click on through to other OMAAT contributors.

  66. @James, its quite possible that what’s happening with the new Berlin airport has been written about prior but if it was then it was probably written about a long time ago. In any event I think getting a run down of entire history of this situation as well as a general overview of the airport scene in Berlin would quite interesting, at least in my opinion.

  67. @James

    I quite aware of the rather complicated corporate structure of Norwegian, my point was however that none of their operating or corporate names include Norwegian Airlines as you used for the headline of this article.

    Norwegian Air Lines was the original name for the Norwegian owned part of SAS, and I fairly certain that they still own the right to that name still. See my link above.

    Calling Norwegian Air Shuttle (and it’s many other corporate identities) Norwegian Airlines is a fault that many sloppy journalists not in the aviation press that don’t bother to do basic research seems to make.

    Kindly don’t go down that route, simply use Norwegian or Norwegian Air.

  68. “Relaxed hand baggage rules”

    I disagree with this one, they have a hard 10KG limit which makes cabin-only baggage hard to do on longer trips. There’s no option to pay for more cabin luggage even in premium which sucks as I would be willing to pay to avoid wasting time checking a bag.

    My only issue with them, though. They are now the only airline I fly NYC-LON because I want to go for shorter trips than BA allows with their Saturday rule and I find Norwegian service to be better, even if I am paying for it as add-ons. Even then, it’s both better & cheaper than BA.

  69. Whilst consolidation is often said to be a bad thing, the fact that we have 3 big airlines in Europe and 3 big airlines in the USA is a good thing on the basis that each is financially sound now which historically was not the case. The European carriers have effectively fixed that themselves (albeit having still to deal with huge pension issues etc) and the American ones were able to benefit from Chapter 11. The price to fly now is relatively speaking good value these days, compared to 20, 30 or 40 years ago.

    I am a bit tired of media reports (including in The Times (original version), which should know better) comparing Norwegian and BA. They did this by saying that the former will fly you from London to New York for £70 one way, whilst BA charge £6,000 for a Club World return on the same route. Aside from the fact that is comparing apples with oranges, it’s a rare thing to be able to get to/from America for that price on Norwegian – their prices anytime I’ve looked are broadly similar to those of BA/AA/VS etc in economy.

    If people don’t complain as much about Norwegian it’s presumably because they go in with “low cost” expectations and are pleasantly surprised, whereas on BA it works the other way round (thanks in huge part to Alex Cruz). As one of the posters further up said, if you create a good product (which I understand Norwegian is – I’m flying with them for the first time on Sunday) and sell it really cheaply, people will like it. That doesn’t mean it’s sustainable if it doesn’t make enough £ or € to actually pay your bills. I find it annoying when blogs etc just focus on the service without explaining why it’s changing – OK, so Etihad is cutting back on this or that, but isn’t that due to the fact that given the prices they’re charging, they couldn’t afford it in the first place?

    As for preferring Ryanair, whilst the flight may be OK if it’s sub-2 hours the boarding experience alone (in which you’re made to feel like cattle) is an absolute nightmare.

    If we can go from A to B in whatever style we want for a price we’re willing to pay then I think we should be happy. If we can’t then just start your own airline!

    I think that IAG would be a good home for Norwegian. Whilst some of the long haul deliveries may be diverted to BA or EI, I would imagine the brand would be kept and Level would disappear. Norwegian is at least known at one end of the route whereas Level is new at both ends. The IAG business model has always been to be a platform for different airline brands, rather than trying to operate a single airline. But then (and apologies to those keen on grammar for starting a sentence with a conjunction) none of us really knows what Mr Walsh has in mind. Let’s just hope he can get his hands on Finnair as well to help improve their finances and add to the group’s eastern flank.

    And by the way I like having British (and to the extent it’s different (and it is) Australian)) English on this blog. At least we can now have “s” where it’s properly meant to be rather than “z”. It adds some proper colour!

  70. @Seat1C

    “But then (and apologies to those keen on grammar for starting a sentence with a conjunction)…”

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with starting a sentence with a conjunction. It was good enough for the King James Bible (“And in the beginning…”), Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Dickens…

    Who are these grammar pedants with their made-up rules?! And never apologise to them – it only encourages them in their mistaken belief that they are Right.

  71. @The nice Paul

    I’m not sure I want to copy the Bible, but the other references are fine! I’m not keen on a split infinitive myself, but I do appreciate I’ve lost the battle on that. Like your joke use of a capital “R” though!

  72. @James

    It is official..you have overshadowed your boss already!..So when is your 1st meet and greet for your fans in London?? I would like to come and film it..so I can [email protected] a copy with a subtitel in German with a messahe that you want a raise and your own corner in OMAAT..especially for those silly twinks adoring you more than God! LOL

  73. Oh this silly typo .. message..I mean message…yes still twinks and probably more daddies than twinks !!

  74. Are you out of your mind in your praise of Norwegian??? Only someone who moves to an exit row seat after takeoff without paying for it (condoned by flight attendants) would praise the airline! Absolutely NO to NOrwegian!!! EVERYTHING about it is low-cost, except not necessarily the fare (it was more expensive compared to two SAS flights I flew last month; and in the case of the two intra-European NOrwegian flights I flew last month, they were less than US $20 cheaper than SAS but since I had not flown with them before, I regretfully decided to give them a try). I have nothing good to say about my experience with NOrwegian, from ground to air. NOrwegian charges everything (including water) and the employees are awful. The check-in counter staff makes you scan your luggage tag and load the luggage onto the baggage carousel while they just stand there. There were at least half a dozen employees just standing in front of the check-in counter doing nothing but just talk to each other. The boarding process was pure chaos for both flights (gate staff again was standing by just watching without maintaining decorum). Chaos was also onboard the plane. The flight attendants were standoffish. They were selective and discriminatory in passenger treatment. If you were the ones they decide to treat nicely (like allowing an exit row seat to be occupied by a freeloader), then of course you would have nothing but good things to say about NOrwegian. Given my experience, I would pay more to fly another airline in the future to avoid NOrwegian. NEVER again would I fly NOrwegian!

  75. Thanks for the article, was interesting.

    I do however think a couple of points should have been raised:

    1) more information on their massive losses and precarious financial position.

    2) the masses of passenger complaints regarding poorly handled cancellations and delays. (Have a read of skytrax). As their entire long haul network is served with 787’s they have become particularly vulnerable to the engine issues.

    3) the possible issues they may face with the recently announced US regulations regarding airlines operating from a ‘country of convenience’ versus the country where they are owned (have a google).

  76. @James — I find it hard to believe you prefer Ryanair over Vueling. I think most people I know feel the opposite! Maybe you can elaborate at a later date? P.S. It is really unfortunate if you got the name of the airline wrong in the title…

  77. I have flown twice, and my wife has flown 5 times from Stewart Airport (NY) to Ireland. All good flight experiences .. bar one which was not Norwegian’s fault.
    Their fares are eticing enought to lure us to drive less than 90 mins north .. to easy and economal parking right outside the small terminal. And we have made touchdown to driving out of the parking lot in 15 minutes!
    Michael O’Leary’s comments may be because he is sore about the many pilots that abandoned Ryan Air for Norwegian.
    From the New Yotk / New Jersey perspective Norwegian are providing comfortable and cost effective flights from Stewart. Long may it last. My best wishes to them.

  78. @Jordan and @twoclicks and anyone else here thinking Vueling is better than Ryanair – you have it completely wrong.

    James is completely correct, Ryanair has a notorious reputation but rather unfairly so as the two most awful airlines in Europe are Vueling and WizzAir. Vueling in particularly deserves a special place in hell, it looks more polished but is actually the most infuriating airline on earth I know and from others I know who have travelled on them. My partner is Italian and the fear of there is that if Alitalia go bust, not that Ryanair will proliferate but actual genuine horror that Vueling will dominate their domestic market. Be careful what you wish for, after all this is the airline that gave us Fatty Cruz and why BA is racing to the bottom now thanks to him.

  79. @James,

    Interesting article thanks, but have to say there are couple of glaring inaccuracies here.

    Firstly, we absolutely DO know what Norwegians finances look like, and they are appalling. Google “Leeham News” and check any of their recent analyses of Norwegian’s financial situation. They lost USD 229 million in the first two months of this year!

    This brings me to a broader point which is that Norwegian’s business model is not, and never has been sustainable at all. They have not discovered any real way to deliver a better product more cheaply than the big, bad legacy airlines. What they have discovered is a way to set money on fire at a stunning pace. In the process, by pricing totally unsustainably, they have forced legacy carriers like BA to cut their service levels to compete. Therefore while they have wasted billions in investor funds, they have arguably brought service levels, as well as just prices, down for everyone.

    The one thing Norwegian really does have going for them is their lower cost tax and labour structure. Therefore I personally doubt IAG would immediately fold all the wide bodies into the BA fleet of they acquired Norwegian, they would lose this advantage. Perhaps they would want to maintain the brand (in much reduced form) as a leisure arm out of Gatwick, allowing them to start to reposition BA as a truly premium carrier again.

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