New Norwegian carrier Norse Atlantic clears hurdle to begin service

Jan 16, 2022

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A new low-cost Norwegian airline is one step closer to beginning service to three American cities.

Norse Atlantic Airways on Friday received tentative approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation to commence service between Norway and the U.S. The startup hopes to begin service this summer between Oslo (OSL) and Fort Lauderdale (FLL), New York/Newburgh (SWF) and the Los Angeles area (ONT), according to its filing with the DOT.

The airline will operate three Boeing 787 Dreamliners using a two-class product featuring both premium and economy cabins.

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If all that sounds familiar, that’s because Norwegian Air provided similar two-class 787 service on long-haul routes to cities in the U.S. and around the world. That airline announced it was shutting down last January, a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic’s severe impact on air travel.

In a way, Norse has risen from the ashes of Norwegian long haul. Its shareholders include members of Norwegian’s management team, including its founder, Bjorn Kjos.

There will be a significant difference this time between Norwegian and Norse. Norwegian was plagued with labor issues, and took an especially combative tone with its U.S.-based flight attendants, unsuccessfully arguing to the National Mediation Board that they were contractors.

Norse will begin service with three Boeing 787 Dreamliners. (Photo courtesy of Norse Atlantic Airways)
Norse will begin service with three Boeing 787 Dreamliners. (Photo courtesy of Norse Atlantic Airways)

In stark contrast, Norse reached a pre-hire agreement with the U.S. Association of Flight Attendants-CWA last year that will provide union representation for its U.S.-based flight attendants once they agree to it. In other words, Norse is embracing the unionization of its flight attendants before the airline even begins operations and starts hiring them, which is set to begin next week.

In a statement, Sara Nelson, AFA’s president, applauded the DOT’s approval.

“Approving Norse Atlantic Airways’ permit with a legal commitment to workers’ rights provides results based on President Biden’s goals for increasing good-paying Union jobs,” she said. “Norse management is demonstrating that the success of a business starts with respecting workers and investing in good, union jobs. The company will start the hiring process next week.”

Featured photo of Lofoten Islands in Norway by Kenneth Schoth/Getty Images.

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