Norse Atlantic Readies Winter Plan Amid Strong Summer Demand

Norse Atlantic Airways
Credit: Torontonian / Alamy Stock Photo

Long-haul LCC Norse Atlantic is seeing strong demand for summer 2023 and is preparing to put its winter 2023 flights—including more winter sun destinations—on sale in the coming months, its president told Aviation Week in an interview. 

“The target is to have a complete winter schedule finalized and out for sale by the end of May,” Charles Duncan said March 21, noting the airline would first put core year-round destinations such as London Gatwick-New York JFK on sale but would then implement a shift.  

“The biggest shift you can expect will be less cold-to-cold—European cold city to cold city in the U.S.,” Duncan said. “We will be pivoting our network and doing more flying from Europe and the UK to warmer destinations in the U.S., but also thinking about the Caribbean, potentially Mexico, and potentially also warm destinations in the east.” 

The carrier put its summer 2023 destinations on sale at the end of February and will have 34 flights a week from London Gatwick in summer 2023. Duncan, who joined the airline at the beginning of 2023 after its mid-2022 start of operations, said, “In terms of the overall demand environment for this summer, it’s very strong.”    

Duncan said the airline, an all-Boeing 787-9 operator, was closely monitoring the situation after last summer’s operational problems at European airports caused by staffing shortages. 

But he is cautiously optimistic, he said. “All of the signals we’ve seen so far are that everyone has learned from the challenges of last summer. I personally don’t expect to see anything like what we saw last summer,” Duncan said. “London Gatwick has given us every assurance that they’re ready and focused.”  

For its own staffing needs, the airline has had good success, Duncan said, and on the pilot side plans to make use of the flying school with locations in Sweden, Norway and the U.S. that is part of its corporate group. “There are some interesting possibilities where we can take pilots from our pilot school and create our own pilot pipeline. We view that as being, down the road, a real competitive advantage for us,” he said. 

Norse Atlantic will be operating a nine-aircraft schedule this summer, with a tenth spare aircraft based at Gatwick. “That’s a big investment for us but one we think is important to make,” Duncan said. Five of its overall fleet of 15 787s are currently leased to Air Europa but the airline expects those to be back within its own operations by summer 2024.  

Beyond that the carrier does have ambitions for further growth, Duncan said. “[But] more importantly in the near term is our ambition to be profitable,” he said. “Our stated growth is to be profitable in the second half of this year. The summer is going to be great; the trick is always the winter.”  

Duncan said demand was coming largely from the leisure sector, with some business travelers too. The airline is experiencing good uptake for its Norse Premium cabin product, he said.  

“Our goal is to be the first truly successful low-cost, long-haul and to do that we think we need to focus on leisure first and foremost, and we also need to be flying in the largest markets, not pursuing secondary and tertiary markets,” Duncan said. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel and create markets that don’t exist or stimulate markets that are small today.”

Helen Massy-Beresford

Based in Paris, Helen Massy-Beresford covers European and Middle Eastern airlines, the European Commission’s air transport policy and the air cargo industry for Aviation Week & Space Technology and Aviation Daily.