Norse Atlantic Airways says it plans to start direct transatlantic flights between the United Kingdom and the United States in 2023 after receiving approval from the US for its British unit.
The US Department of Transport has proposed to grant Norse Atlantic UK a foreign air carrier permit, the low-cost carrier said in a statement on October 17, 2022.
“This milestone represents a huge step in creating competition in the transatlantic market that will benefit consumers, stimulate business travel and lead to job creation,” said Bjorn Tore Larsen, CEO of Norse Atlantic Airways.
Norse Atlantic had previously planned to start US flights with the UK subsidiary from London Gatwick (LGW) by the end of 2022 but said it now hopes to start flights to points in the United States in summer 2023. Destinations will be announced soon.
Why does Norse need a UK AOC?
The short answer is Brexit. Norse Atlantic already operates flights to New York JFK from LGW with its Norwegian AOC, but using fifth freedom rights, meaning the airline has to operate it as a connecting flight from Oslo to JFK via LGW.
The UK AOC will allow it to start US flights in London, without the need for the short connecting flight to Oslo on the widebody Boeing 787 Dreamliners that it operates.
“We are pleased that we will continue to deliver on our pledge to democratize transatlantic travel and we look forward [to] expanding our point-to-point route network between London Gatwick and the US as part of our summer 2023 schedule,” Larsen added.
Norse Atlantic operates Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft in a two-class configuration – premium and economy. It has 15 of the aircraft in its fleet, leased under power-by-hour contracts. The airline doesn’t yet need all of the aircraft for its program so is sub-leasing four to Air Europa, which helps to bring in extra cash.
Norwegian-based Norse Atlantic is one of a crop of carriers trying to shake up transatlantic flying, which has been traditionally dominated by flag carriers such as British Airways, Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA), Air France and their US counterparts American, Delta and United.
Norse Atlantic was founded in March 2021 and its first flight took off from Oslo to New York on June 14, 2022. However, it has had to pull back on some routes for winter 2022, due to uncertain demand.
Other companies trying their luck connecting passengers between Europe and the United States with a low-cost model include Iceland’s PLAY, which flies narrowbodies via its hub in Reykjavik, and US low-fare carrier JetBlue (JBLU).
Transatlantic low-cost has proved a tricky market to crack, with others having previously fallen by the wayside, such as Norwegian Air Shuttle and Wow in recent years and Laker Airways’ Skytrain back in the 1980s.