Norse Atlantic hints at its plan for London Gatwick — could we be getting 6 new US routes this year?

Jun 24, 2022

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Norse Atlantic Airways has some ambitious plans for London Gatwick Airport (LGW).

The long-haul, low-cost airline that began operations last week said in a filing on Wednesday to the U.S. Department of Transportation that it plans to serve six more U.S. airports, in addition to the previously announced service to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

(Screenshot from Cirium)

From Gatwick, Norse is planning service to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) and Orlando International Airport (MCO). “Soon after,” it also plans to add flights to Ontario International Airport (ONT) east of Los Angeles, San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Chicago-Rockford International Airport (RFD) and Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI), according to the filing.

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Perhaps the most interesting city in the filing is Rockford. The airport — about 85 miles northwest of Chicago’s Loop — has long pitched itself as a reliever airport to Chicago’s busy airports, Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW). It’s lacked scheduled international service since April 2015, when Frontier Airlines ended service to Cancun (CUN), Puerto Vallarta (PVR) and Punta Cana (PUJ), according to Cirium schedule data. Notably, the airport last year wrote a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in support of Norse’s initial U.S. DOT application.

Norse’s filing was to win approval for its new U.K. subsidiary to begin operations in the U.S. Norse’s indirect predecessor, Norwegian Air’s long-haul division, was known for having multiple air operator certificates (AOC) to take advantage of different labour and operating laws in different parts of Europe.

The filing states that it needs to open a U.K. subsidiary because of Brexit, and that it currently does not plan to file for any other AOCs. Norse’s limited-time service between its base at Oslo Airport-Gardermoen (OSL) and Gatwick is to allow for Norse to operate its first few months of flights between Gatwick and Kennedy as fifth-freedom flights while it gets its U.K. certificate up and running. A fifth-freedom flight means that Norse is allowed to operate flights and sell tickets on service between its home country, Norway, a second country, the U.K. and a third country, the U.S.

Norse expects to receive its AOC from the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority “in the next few weeks,” the filing said. It aims to begin U.S. operations on the UK AOC in late 2022. Norse plans to use eight Boeing 787-9s for the operation.

Related: First look: Norse Atlantic Airways’ inaugural flight from New York on the Boeing 787

Norse has inked an agreement with the British Airline Pilots Association to create union pilot jobs for its U.K. subsidiary. The subsidiary will also be part of Norse’s deal with the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA to hire U.S.-based flight attendants and recognize a union for them.

In a statement to TPG, Norse acknowledged the filing and promised more details soon.

“We can confirm that we have submitted an application to the US DOT as part of the process of setting up our U.K. based AOC,” Norse said. “Further details will be announced in due course following the completion of this process.”

Featured photo by Ethan Klapper/The Points Guy.

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