The era of cheap flights to Europe is officially upon us.
On February 23, Norwegian Air announced that it will launch flights from the Northeast of the United States to Europe for as low as $US65.
Norwegian’s announcement comes a month after Icelandic low cost airline WOW Air launched a $US69.99 fare sale from the West Coast of the US to Europe with a stop over in Reykjavík.
Starting in June, the Norwegian low-cost carrier will operate flights from its bases in Newburgh, New York; Hartford, Connecticut; and Providence, Rhode Island to destinations in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland using the airline’s new Boeing 737MAX 8 aeroplanes.
“We are pleased to announce our new highly-anticipated transatlantic routes. Our new, non-stop service will enable tens of thousands of new travellers to fly between the continents much more
comfortably and affordably,” Norwegian Air CEO Bjørn Kjos said in a statement.
“Norwegian’s latest transatlantic offering is not only great news for the travelling public, but also for the local U.S. economies as we will bring more tourists that will increase spending, consequently creating thousands of new local jobs.”
According to Norwegian, the $US65 tickets are part of an introductory sale. However, if you aren’t one of the several thousand travellers lucky enough to get their hands on these tickets, you’ll be glad to know that the normal starting price is just $US99, Norwegian Air senior vice president of sales, Lars Sande, told Business Insider in an interview.
The newly announced flights to Ireland will be operated by NAI, Norwegian’s Irish subsidiary, that finally gained Department of Transportation approval to fly into the US in December after two years of delays.
The airline’s Norway-registered operation has been flying into the US since 2013 using its fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliner widebody jets and will operate the new routes to Scotland.
Norwegian’s Irish operation has been a great point of controversy over the past few years. NAI is one of several subsidiaries operating under the Norwegian banner. Unlike the rest of Norwegian, NAI is based in Dublin, instead of in Norway. Critics, led by US airlines and their unions, believes this allows NAI to take advantage of Ireland’s employment laws, which are significantly less stringent than Norway’s. As a result, they say, NAI could hire pilots and cabin crew members from Asia at lower wages to fly transatlantic routes.
“What the other airlines and unions are saying are alternative facts and fake news,” Sande said. “We are doing exactly what Trump wants to do. We are flying American aircraft, hiring American employees, and we paying local salaries while following local regulations.”
In a press conference earlier this month, White House press secretary Sean Spicer seemingly agreed with Norwegian’s stance saying the airline’s agreement to hire US crew and place orders for Boeing jets represent “huge economic interests” for America.
According Sande, the new bases will start up with 150 crew members while the airline has another 500 crew members based in New York and Fort Lauderdale, Florida to operate its Dreamliners. In addition, Norwegian currently operates an all-Boeing fleet consisting of more than 110 Dreamliners and 737s with another 100-plus Boeing jets on order.