Norwegian has unveiled plans for major expansion of its long-haul routes out of the UK.
New long-haul routes, increased frequencies and on-board improvements, with the airline’s latest Dreamliners to be based in Gatwick, will put the UK ‘at the heart’ of continued expansion, according to chief executive Bjorn Kjos.
Long-haul routes will be launched from London Gatwick before anywhere else on its network, with new services to South America and Asia now in the pipeline.
Services to more South American countries are under consideration on the back of strong ticket sales of its new Gatwick to Buenos Aires route.
The service, the UK’s first low-cost flight to South America, launches tomorrow (February 14). The airline plans to offer onward connections via new domestic services to cities around Argentina and in Latin America.
The airline is also exploring further expansion into Asia following the launch of its Gatwick to Singapore service, the world’s longest low-cost non-stop route to Singapore. Destinations including Tokyo, Shanghai and Beijing are planned, provided the airline is given access to the Siberian corridor across Russia, the most efficient and direct route to the Far East.
The airline’s first Airbus aircraft join the fleet in 2019. The eight new aircraft will serve the UK from 2020 on intercontinental routes, with plans to fly from London to the US East Coast and Midwest. Detroit, Philadelphia and Minneapolis are cited as potential new routes as is the Middle East.
Unveiling the expansion plans, the airline said UK passengers would be the first to experience its upgraded 56-seat Premium cabins, with 10 new Dreamliners entering the fleet this year. These replace the current Dreamliner fleet at Gatwick.
Long-haul Wi-Fi will be rolled out from the end of this year on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The carrier will offer free Wi-Fi or a paid-for high-speed option for streaming movies and TV shows.
It hopes the improved cabin, which adds 21 Premium seats to its Dreamliners, will make the airline more attractive to business travellers. Increased frequencies planned include a daily service for London to Buenos Aires from this winter, up from four a week, an increase from nine to 11 flights a week to Los Angeles, and from two to four weekly flights to Fort Lauderdale. Norwegian’s long term plan is to secure slots for a triple-daily Gatwick to New York service.
Kjos said: “The UK will be at the heart of our continued global expansion and we remain fully committed to the market. We are launching long-haul routes exclusively from London Gatwick, introducing our newest Dreamliners to Gatwick and increasing frequency on popular routes which reflects the growing importance of the UK to the future of our business.
“With huge global ambitions, we’re confident the UK can offer Norwegian a springboard to further expansion as we aim to become the long-haul airline of choice for passengers seeking a high-quality service at great value.”
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