Norwegian, the low cost airline trying (again) long-haul flights

While low cost airlines have so far concentrated on flights of less than 4 hours, the scenario has changed in the last two years.

Norwegian airline Norwegian Air Shuttle, already known for having opened 38 flights between Europe and the United States, and already present between New York and Paris Orly, will inaugurate in July several flights between Charles de Gaulle airport and the United States .Norwegian in New YorkBy connecting Paris 7 times a week with New York, Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale, it will offer fares starting at 179 euros each way, 33% cheaper than the best offers from regular airlines. In addition to being a new competitor on the North Atlantic routes, the appearance of low-cost long-range flights – which has already started in England, and in Germany with Eurowings – is yet another threat to large traditional companies.

Norwegian Dreamliner

To compete with Air France , challenge the strength of the world’s networks and offer a competitive service even if minimal, Norwegian has managed to reduce its costs with three measures. The first is to offer very low fares, but without including anything other than the ticket, a 10 kg cabin bag, and access to an excellent on-board wifi. Any other service is charged: a meal 70 euros, a suitcase in the basement 70 euros, a chair marked 35 euros. Tickets are non-refundable, they have supplements for headphones and even a blanket, and a surcharge is charged if you pay by credit card…

Hop , Air France 's faith in low costs for short - haul flights
Hop , Air France ‘s faith in low costs for short – haul flights

The second secret of these low cost companies is in the chosen aircraft. Norwegian ‘s Boeing 787-Dreamlinercarry 291 passengers (including 32 in a Premium class), instead of just 250 on traditional airlines. Last generation planes, they have 15% lower kerosene consumption than previous generation devices, in addition to offering some services, especially wifi, which are not yet available in older fleets. The company’s costs are also reduced by the chosen strategy to reduce personnel costs. Hired in Ireland – the holding company’s headquarters – or in the United States, the crews will not be bound by the heavy French labor laws, nor influenced by the powerful unions. Norwegian hopes to lower these expenses by almost 50% compared to Air France, decreasing their weight from 30% to just 16.3% compared to the overall cost of flights.

Norwegian maiden flight to Martinique
Norwegian maiden flight to Martinique

After the low cost companies in Europe and the hubs of companies in the Gulf, the growth of Norwegian or Eurowings is another threat weighing on the traditional model of international aviation.Thierry Gargar of Guadeloupe Tourism at Norwegian Flight LaunchThe success of the model already experienced in London, the rapid international development of these companies (Norwegian already operates in the Americas, including flights between Martinique , Guadeloupe and Boston, Baltimore or New York; it has projects in Bordeaux ), shows that these new low cost offers have the ability to seduce travelers. Even knowing the difficulties that low-cost air transport always ends up facing, and remembering the pioneer Laker Airways or the bankrupt Zoom Airlines, Air France and the large regular airlines are already considering an answer.