Is this airline Norwegian 2.0? Norse Atlantic Airways planning Gatwick operations next year

Aug 17, 2021

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London’s Gatwick Airport can expect a brand-new long-haul airline in the first quarter of 2022, and its business model may sound very familiar.

Norse Atlantic Airways plans to launch long-haul, low-cost flights between Europe and North America next year and has chosen Gatwick (LGW) as its first U.K. base and applied for a U.K. Air Operator Certificate.

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If this concept rings a bell, it’s because this is exactly what Norwegian Air did for years before ceasing long-haul operations permanently due to the pandemic.

Related: Norwegian Air to axe long-haul operations in a bid to survive

And the new airline has far more links to Norwegian Air than just a similar business model.

It has leased 15 former Norwegian Air Boeing 787s and plans to hire some of the Gatwick-base Norwegian Air employees who lost their jobs when the airline ceased operations — great news for so many aviation staff who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic.

The long-haul, low-cost model has traditionally been notoriously difficult to make profitable. Full-service airlines usually generate revenue from full-fare paying business travellers who book last minute and aren’t bothered with the cost of their fare. Not only do these travellers tend to avoid low-cost airlines on long flights, but there is also very little business travel demand for the foreseeable future because of the ongoing pandemic.

Related: Norwegian Air cuts flights, lays off staff amid survival concerns

Still, Kjos and the management of Norse Atlantic Airways have likely learned plenty of lessons from the failed Norwegian Air long-haul experiment, which he can avoid with Norse Atlantic Airways.

The pandemic likely means the leased aircraft can be secured at affordable rates; there are hundreds of aircraft across the world sitting in storage looking for buyers. Norse can also commence operations without the large amount of debt Norwegian carried with it for years.

So, how quickly does Norse plan to scale up the new operation?

“Based on the current situation, we anticipate that all our 15 Dreamliners will be flying customers between Europe and the U.S. next summer,” said Norse CEO Bjørn Tore Larsen. “We will launch our ticket sales approximately three months prior to [the] first flight and will offer exciting destinations that have proven to be attractive.”

Featured image by Norse Atlantic Airways

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