The Viking-inspired branding chosen by Norse Atlantic Airways clarifies its intentions: the new low-cost long-haul carrier wants to conquer like its Scandinavian ancestors, but this time by air rather than by sea in a rowboat.
The airline intends to focus on one thing, offering economical flights from European cities – including Oslo, London and Paris – to North American hubs.
Transatlantic routes are a lucrative market, and London to New York has always been popular with airlines, proving popular with both leisure and business travelers.
Before the pandemic, flights to the United States were the main profit driver for British Airways, whose other lucrative routes had dwindled after years of battling competition from low-cost carriers on its European flights.
According to travel data provider OAG, BA’s service between London Heathrow Airport and JFK in New York was found to be the only billion dollar route in the world, generating $ 1.15 billion ( £ 830million) in revenue for the carrier between April 2018 and March 2019.
Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of the nearly 81 million passengers who traveled in 2019 through Heathrow, the UK’s busiest airport, were flying to or from North America.
It’s no surprise that Norse wants to take a piece of that pie, and he’s not the only newcomer to the track looking to fill the Atlantic.
Budget airline JetBlue is also looking for a share of the action and is launching its new London-New York service on Wednesday, including business class seats.
Air travel is starting to recover from the pandemic, following the relaxation of some international travel restrictions, which now allow fully vaccinated arrivals from the United States and the EU to avoid quarantine in England.
Although Norse has said it is targeting families and young travelers, it will offer premium and economy classes on board.
The arrival of these new competitors is likely to give UK carriers, including the owner of BA International Airlines Group (IAG) and Virgin Atlantic, some thought.
Norse insists he can succeed where others have failed, focusing only on offering transatlantic flights at a discount.
“Our model is very different from any other model that has been tested, so it has not yet been proven or disproved,” said Norse Managing Director Bjørn Tore Larsen.
“We are only creating a low cost long haul airline and we are very focused on that, we have a very lean operation, and we know that with historical revenues we can make a decent profit on the basis of the base. of costs that we have “.
In fact, Norse is not the first airline to attempt to operate the short-haul economy flights, popularized by easyJet and Ryanair, over longer distances.
Norse’s own founders have already tried it. The airline was created by some of the Scandinavian aviation veterans who were behind Norwegian, the airline that pioneered low-cost transatlantic flights but ended up seeking creditors protection last year. It will even use the same Boeing 787 Dreamliner previously leased by Norwegian, before ending its long-haul model after a near-collapse during the pandemic.
Norse insists travel demand is rebounding as restrictions on coronaviruses are relaxed, while three-quarters of people want to travel to see friends and family as soon as possible, figures released by the organization show commercial airline International Air Transport Association.
However, business travelers generate the majority of airline revenues, and business flights are expected to return more slowly than leisure travel.
British Airways owner IAG recently announced plans to fully reopen its transatlantic services in September.
Making the long-haul budget work depends on keeping costs low and attracting a range of passengers, not just those who grab the cheapest fares, said Chris Tarry, aviation analyst.
“The lowest cost in a given market will always win, but it has to be tailored to the market or passenger mix that you are targeting. The mix of traffic is very important on long-haul. What was important to Norwegian was premium traffic, but they didn’t have enough premium seats on their planes ”.
After 18 months without international travel, many people want to resume their flight. On the horizon, other issues should play a role in the success of these new transatlantic services, especially if consumers concerned about the climate crisis try to reduce their emissions by traveling less.