Norwegian Will Start Flying Between Tampa & London

I lived in Tampa for over a decade, so will always have a soft spot in my heart for the city’s beautiful airport. I’ve also enjoyed watching the airport grow. I remember when I was a kid I’d get super excited when I drove up to the airport and saw the British Airways 777 parked there, as it was the only longhaul flight at the time.

While British Airways was the first, we’ve seen quite a bit of transatlantic growth since then.

Edelweiss has been flying between Tampa and Zurich for years. In 2015, Lufthansa began flying between Tampa and Frankfurt. Then late last year, Icelandair began flying between Tampa and Reykjavik.

Now Tampa International Airport will be seeing a fifth transatlantic airline. Norwegian will begin operating 2x weekly flights between London Gatwick and Tampa as of October 31, 2018. The flight will be operated by a Boeing 787-9, with the following schedule:

DI7165 London Gatwick to Tampa departing 2:55PM arriving 7:35PM [Wed, Sat]
DI7166 Tampa to London Gatwick departing 9:00PM arriving 9:55AM (+1 day) [Wed, Sat]

This will be Tampa’s first ever scheduled Boeing 787 service, so that’s pretty exciting (well, assuming the flight is actually operated by a 787, given the ongoing issues with the plane).

Norwegian’s Boeing 787-9 aircraft feature 344 seats, including 35 premium economy seats and 309 economy seats.


Norwegian’s 787 premium economy


Norwegian’s 787 economy

On one hand I’m surprised to see Norwegian add flights to Tampa, as I figured there would be other transatlantic markets they’d expand to first. At the same time, I guess I’m not surprised. This flight is fairly low risk since it’s only twice weekly, I imagine they got some good incentives from the airport, and it also helps them continue their strategy of replicating British Airways’ Gatwick longhaul route network exactly.

As a point of comparison, British Airways operates their flight between Tampa and London Gatwick daily using a 777-200, and based on what I’ve heard, the flight performs quite well for them.

Fares on Norwegian start at around $460 roundtrip, which sounds low, though keep in mind that Norwegian charges for just about everything, including checked bags and meals. Then again, with the major network carriers constantly cutting service, the difference between Norwegian and others is less than before.


This is really going to put downward pressure on British Airways’ pricing to/from Tampa. Since they’ve owned the market, they’ve been able to get away with outrageously high fares, at least in the context of how low most transatlantic fares are nowadays. The cheapest roundtrip flight between Tampa and London Gatwick in November (around when Norwegian launches) is $1,145, so I’m curious to see how that changes over time.

What do you make of Norwegian adding flights to Tampa?

Comments

  1. Ben,
    Do you think the rising popularity of the Gulf Coast (i.e Sarasota, Bradenton, Anna Maria Island) from tourists maybe a stimulus for this, or could it be just another way of getting to Orlando and the parks, since TPA airport only 1 hour away from Orlando on the Interstate 4 and Orlando MCO Airport is nearly at capacity?

  2. As a Tampa based flyer, I would love to see BA respond by switching the Tampa flight to Heathrow. I know this isn’t super likely, given the way that they tend to fly vacation destinations out of Gatwick, but the increased connectivity would be invaluable for flyers originating in Tampa.

  3. FYI – Norwegian now also has a 787-9 with a more dense premium cabin. It is 8 rows 2-3-2 with 43” of pitch vs. the 5 rows 2-3-2 with 46” of pitch.
    Wife just flew MCO-LGW this week and was pleasantly surprised.
    Virgin Atlantic wanted $2K one way for Economy Delight (3” of additional legroom)
    Was able to book same day with Norwegian for $710 one way.

  4. Interesting…..
    I would be curious if there was a probability of an Airfrance/KLM and Delta joint bid, with all of the transatlantic destinations they are opening up they could convert the longhual and maybe even short haul flights to Virgin Atlantic so it could get a grip on the British market. The purchase would also give SkyTeam a carrier in Scandinavia as they currently lack behind Finnair and SAS. It would definitely scare British Airways.
    What do you think?

  5. Love It and Love Norwegian Airlines. Just wish they would fly into say Birmingham Al or Nashville TN as new points to add in the south as they lack much of a presence in that area of the country and I am sure they would be a huge success in both cities.

    Please do Not Sell to BA or any other airline!!!

  6. I’m soooo happy. I’ve lived in Tampa for a while and grew up there and the soft spot feeling is the same for me. I would always love seeing the BA 777 at it’s gate when driving to the parking garage when I was little. I was also really excited when Lufthansa launched flights.

  7. Grrrr… Norwegian seems to have suspended all of their Seattle flights (which have been 4x weekly) starting the same date.

    🙁

  8. Maybe this could be the stimulus for BA to switch one of their Central Florida flights from Gatwick to Heathrow. It would be nice if they switched MCO to Heathrow and left Tampa to Gatwick, this giving travelers choice of departing airport. Although there’s a lot of holiday travelers to Orlando, there’s also a ton of competition on Gatwick to Orlando so probably low margins. There are a lot of people in Central Florida that could connect via Heathrow, so LHR-MCO would be about connecting traffic, not O/D traffic. Lufthansa is the only major European carrier to offer a large choice of connecting traffic (Delta will soon fly a non-hub route MCO to Amsterdam, so there will be connections on KLM). Would be nice if BA joined the mix by switching their MCO & TPA flights to Heathrow.

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