Tickets on the new route will start at 179 pounds ($230) one-way, with “premium” seats priced from 699 pounds, Norwegian said in a statement Thursday. The service will commence Sept. 28 with four weekly flights from London’s Gatwick airport and will be operated with Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner aircraft seating as many as 344 passengers.
“Our transatlantic flights have shown the huge demand for affordable long-haul travel, so we are delighted to expand into new markets,” Chief Executive Officer Bjorn Kos said in the statement. “Travel should be affordable for all.”
Norwegian is betting denser seating and the lower operating costs of the 787 will allow it to steal passengers from costlier rivals and stimulate demand among price-sensitive travelers. The carrier has one of the industry’s most ambitious growth plans with more than 200 aircraft on order as it seeks to transfer the successful low-cost airline model to long-haul services. Norwegian will also fly Boeing’s latest narrow-body jet, the 737 Max, on routes across the North Atlantic starting this summer.
The new service between London and Singapore, a popular business route, puts Norwegian in head-to-head competition with IAG SA’s British Airways and Singapore Air -- the only two airlines currently offering non-stop flights between the cities. BA flies the route twice a day, and Singapore Air serves it four times daily. The carriers use larger Boeing 777 and Airbus A380 aircraft.
Norwegian has so far connected London with destinations in the U.S. and the Caribbean, targeting mainly leisure travelers. Its only Asian destination so far is Bangkok, which it serves from Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen. The latest Singapore flight could be part of a broader expansion as the company canvases locations for potential bases around the world, including plans for an arm in Argentina.
To serve Singapore, Norwegian will use its U.K. subsidiary, with planes and crews based at Gatwick airport. The unit can make use of traffic rights to destinations in Asia, Africa and South America, the company said.
(Richard Weiss - Bloomberg News)