LONDON Dec 5 Norwegian Air Shuttle
said it will add 50 percent more flights between Britain and the
United States next year summer, ramping up competition on
transatlantic routes, days after the U.S. granted extra flying
rights to the budget airline.
Norwegian Air will now offer 34 flights each week between
the two countries from next summer, up from 22 currently,
including a twice-daily service from Gatwick airport, London's
second-largest, to New York's John F. Kennedy, it said on
Norwegian's announcement comes after the U.S. Transportation
Department granted flying rights to the company's Irish unit on
Friday. The airline did not immediately say whether the
additional flights planned were a result of it.
Transatlantic routes have proven lucrative for British
Airways, American Airlines Group Inc, Delta Air
Lines Inc, and others but the established players face
rising competition from newcomers such as Norwegian and Wow Air,
who offer no-frills, often cheaper, flights.
"Our U.S. flights are more popular than ever and customer
demand shows low-cost long-haul flights are here to stay,"
Norwegian's Chief Commercial Officer Thomas Ramdahl said in a
Norwegian said its flights to U.S. cost from 135 pounds
($171.56) for an economy seat compared with the 481 pound cost
of a ticket to New York from London with British Airways in
Rival airlines have reacted by trying to sell cheaper fares
with more restrictions and redesigning cabins to win
budget-conscious travellers back from Norwegian.
Norwegian has already been flying to New York and other U.S.
cities, but until its Irish unit was granted rights giving it EU
aviation privileges on Friday, its ability to expand globally
was limited to the air rights that Norway has negotiated.
($1 = 0.7869 pounds)
(Reporting by Sarah Young, editing by Louise Heavens)