Norwegian set to fly long-haul from Edinburgh

European budget carrier Norwegian has revealed that it is considering launching transatlantic flights from Edinburgh as well as potentially introducing UK domestic services as part of its backing to the case for Gatwick Airport’s expansion.

The airline’s chief executive officer, Bjorn Kjos revealed the intention to expand from Scotland’s capital in Scotland during a visit this week with Gatwick Airport’s chief executive officer Stewart Wingate and Gordon Dewar of Edinburgh Airport to make the case for a more competitive UK airports sector and to engage with Scottish business and political figures.

Norwegian began flying from Edinburgh Airport in 2009 and has now flown over million passengers with services to six destinations in Scandinavia, Spain and the Mediterranean (Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Barcelona, Tenerife and Malaga). But Kjos said but this was only the beginning of its plans and it has ambitions for further new routes from Edinburgh, including the possibility of new transatlantic flights using state-of the-art new aircraft such as the new Boeing 737 MAX.

“Edinburgh will play an important role in our future UK growth and our long-term ambition is to deliver new, direct long-haul flights from Edinburgh,” he said.

“We will also be looking into how we can create new routes from Edinburgh to feed into our fast-growing global network at London Gatwick, which would further boost the choices available to Scottish passengers,” he added.

Norwegian operates from London Gatwick, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester to more than 40 destinations worldwide. Last year was its busiest ever year at Edinburgh with over 200,000 passengers and over the last 12 months (May 2015 - April 2016) has flown 228,000 passengers to and from the airport.

“The new fuel-efficient aircraft we have on order will make it possible to launch low-cost transatlantic routes from Edinburgh in future, creating affordable fares and more choice for business and leisure passengers in Scotland,” added Kjos.

It has successfully launched long-haul from London Gatwick using its Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet and awaiting final approval to launch flights from Cork to the US using its narrowbody 737-800s. Its London Gatwick long-haul network now encompasses eight destinations after the carrier announced this week the addition of flights to Las Vegas from this winter. The twice weekly service takes off from October 31, 2016 and will be flown by the carrier’s new 787-9 Dreamliners.

“Norwegian is bringing more competition to the UK market, which is win-win for the customers by creating more choice and affordable fares for all,” said Thomas Ramdahl, chief commercial officer, Norwegian. “Las Vegas is a fantastic addition to our growing transatlantic network from the UK – viva low-cost, viva Las Vegas!”

The additional route marks the fourth non-stop route by Norwegian into Las Vegas, host of next year’s Routes Americas, and it is the destination’s fastest growing international carrier in the past year, ultimately supporting its goal of increasing international visitation over the next decade.

Norwegian is the only airline to offer non-stop low-cost flights to the US and Caribbean from the UK. Las Vegas will become Norwegian’s eighth US route, with flights currently operating from London Gatwick to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, Boston, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Puerto Rico.

The airline has put on sale a record 425,000 transatlantic seats from Gatwick this summer as the airline continues to introduce brand new larger Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft that offer 344 seats.

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…