Norwegian Launching Flights To Rio De Janeiro

Earlier this year, Norwegian expanded its long haul operations by commencing flights from London to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

They also announced they would commence domestic operations within Argentina, to challenge the high prices passengers in the region have been forced to pay for travel by air.

Their Buenos Aires route has been successful, and has been upgraded to daily.

There was some talk that this route would be extended to continue on to Perth and then to Singapore, but this route seemed extremely optimistic and has not yet happened.

Norwegian has now announced that they will offer non stop flights from London Gatwick to Rio de Janeiro Galeão International Airport from March 31, 2019, with the following schedule:

  • DI7501 London Gatwick to Rio de Janeiro Galeão departing 12:00PM arriving 7:25PM (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays)
  • DI7502 Rio de Janeiro Galeão to London Gatwick departing 10:25PM arriving 13:35PM (+1) (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays)

The flights will be operated by Norwegian’s Boeing 787-9 aircraft featuring both economy, and premium economy seating which Ben recently flew.

Norwegian has said of the new route:

Our new Rio de Janeiro route breaks the monopoly on direct flights between the UK and Brazil as we’re committed to lowering fares and making travel more affordable for all holidaymakers and business travellers.

The monopoly they are talking about is, as you might have guessed, Norwegian’s biggest rival and possible future owner, British Airways. I was surprised to hear they were the only carrier operating the route as I had assumed LATAM or Avianca operated from Rio to Heathrow, but upon checking, sure enough, BA is the only carrier.

British Airways also operates a Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the route.

Norwegian has return launch fares for around £620, which is not that much cheaper than British Airways, which regularly has fares for £740 return and has already started reducing fares once the Norwegian flights start down to £634 return.

If you add in luggage, seat selection and meals Norwegian, British Airways might just be cheaper.

I expected much cheaper launch fares from Norwegian. If you are willing to fly one stop (i.e. via Amsterdam on KLM) you can fly cheaper than Norwegian on a full service airline.

Bottom line

If Buenos Aires worked well for Norwegian, I suspect Rio will also work well, noting they are two different countries with different aviation markets. But this is providing Norwegian can get their fares lower — at the moment with the ‘full service’ inclusions added they are priced higher than British Airways’ advance fares.

They should have a cheaper per seat cost on the comparable aircraft so I’m surprised their launch fares are not much lower. As much as I love Norwegian, if the prices were the same I would still choose BA.

Assuming Norwegian survives through the winter I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lima or Santiago (and perhaps Sao Paulo) added to Norwegian’s route network next year.

These are long flights on a low cost carrier, but if you are looking at low costs, Norwegian is as good as they get.

Would you fly Norwegian to Brazil?

Comments

  1. Also their PE price is the same as BA (except for the special promotion BA have until dec 2)
    The only plus side for Norwegian is that they have more seat pitch.
    But I think they’re pricing just to test the market.
    When they realize that brazilians do research prices, maybe they’ll reduce the fares.

  2. This would be a good way to position to Brazil if you wanted to take advantage of Brazil’s law against surcharges to use miles in premium for one direction as Norwegian wont sting you for booking a long-haul one-way paid for flight so you can pay around 50% of the roundtrip cost.

    For example: BA Avios in Business for 75K miles and about $30 for an 11 hour premium flight coupled with a one-way to Brazil on Norwegian.

  3. You really miss the point here. Check the fares in the op direction FROM Brasil to Europe! Almost half the price.

  4. I’m seeing roundtrip fares (LGW-GIG) from £480 on numerous dates in April, May and June (same for flights originating in Rio) and, if you want to add in some creature comforts, the plus fares start at around £580 roundtrip – not sure where the price of £620 for the cheapest fares comes from.

  5. Norwegian were never seriously considering Buenos Aires to Perth to Singapore. That was just one of 100 or so routes (across Argentina, North America and Europe) that Norwegian applied for before they started operations in Argentina. They decided to apply for as many routes as physically possible by the Dreamliner so they wouldn’t be stuck waiting for approvals in the future if their business was doing well. AvGeeks were the only ones actually talking about this route because it sounded the most exciting.

  6. I flew LGW to SIN last week on Norwegian (the route they’re dropping from January) in Premium. It was excellent. Really lovely crew. Decent seat comfort. Nice modern plane. I go to Rio a lot and definitely plan on using Norwegian.

    BA does have lie-flat seats in business but they’re so narrow that I’m not sure they’re really more comfortable than Norwegian’s recliners. I realise that’s a personal view but I’m increasingly disenchanted with coffin lie-flat seats. Maybe it’s just because I’m getting wider and wider… Norwegian PE versus BA PE is no contest at all — there’s far more space on Norwegian and, usually, better service. You do need to bring your own pillow on Norwegian but the duvets are good and the seats are generally in better condition.

    I have BA Gold so I get to use the First lounges. From Heathrow the new super-express channel into the First lounge is a real plus. The LatAm lounge that BA uses in Rio is pretty good too. That’s a win for BA (although the No 1 lounge that Norwegian uses at LGW is nice, albeit crowded)

    Norwegian rewards gives you cash off on any future Norwegian booking, with no restrictions. Flying premium, the cash adds up fast. BA Exec Club gives you miles to use against a very limited inventory with massive fuel surcharges. A definite win for Norwegian

  7. Check-in out there website i found out that their one way ticket is half price The return one and i consider it a great feature. Normally Airlines charge 70% of The rtn ticket as one way.

  8. Mark,

    I’d much rather fly BA CW than Norwegian “Premium” although I am fairly lean so the narrower BA CW seats are fine for me. A better comparison is with BA Premium Economy and I’d probably give Norwegian the edge there except, like you, I am BA Gold so the Heathrow check-in is a dream.

    And LHR is more convenient for me than Gatwick. And I get miles on BA of course, and the chance of an upgrade, again as BA Gold

  9. Come on James… either it’s 13:35 or 1:35PM, took me a few seconds to figure out those times, either pick the proper way or the American (AM/PM) way, but not both.

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