Norwegian opens first Italian base at Rome Fiumicino

European budget carrier, Norwegian is to strengthen its presence in the Italian market from this summer by opening a new aircraft base at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport. This will be the airline’s first base in Italy and 15th across Europe – it will initially be home to two Boeing 737-800 aircraft from March 27, 2016.

Norwegian has been serving the Italian market for over ten years, but first introduced flights into the capital city’s Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci International Airport in March 2007 when it inaugurated flights to Rome from Oslo, shortly after adding onward links to Warsaw in Poland - it had previously served Rome’s Ciampino Airport. It now serves seven destinations from Fiumicino, comprising Bergen, Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Helsinki, London Gatwick, Oslo, Norway and Stockholm.

Rome is the airline’s largest destination in an Italian network that also includes Catania, Milan, Olbia, Palermo, Pisa and Venice. During the summer 2016 schedule it will account for 64.7 per cent of the airline’s total departure capacity in Italy, according to OAG data, offering around 520,000 seats in and out of Rome.

“We are very pleased to open our first Italian base at Fiumicino since the airport plays an important and strategic role in our development plans. Rome is the premier gateway into Italy so not surprisingly, Fiumicino generates two thirds of our passenger volume in Italy. This is why, for the upcoming summer season we will put on sale almost 500,000 seats,” said Bjørn Kjos, founder and Chief Executive Officer, Norwegian.

The new Rome base is part of a continued growth of Norwegian’s activities outside of its Nordic roots. Although its network is currently solely based on short-haul routes, it will offer long-haul connection opportunities to Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Oakland/San Francisco and Orlando via its four European gateways to North America. In the future long-haul services from Rome are under consideration, according to the carrier.

The growth of Norwegian's activities in Italy has been significant - capacity is up an average of 22.0 per cent per year since the start of the decade - it still remains only a small fish in a big pond. The airline is currently only the 22nd largest operator in the country's international market based on last year's schedules with just a 0.8 per cent share of total international capacity.

Norwegian is continuing its fleet renewal in 2016, with the planned delivery of 21 new aircraft. A total of 17 Boeing 737-800s and four 787-9 Dreamliners are due to be delivered this year. Norwegian is also due to receive four Airbus A320 neos that it will lease out. In addition, seven older 737-800s will depart the fleet.

Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen has travelled across the globe to report on developments in the aviation sector as airlines and airports have continued to evolve and…