Norway’s new low-cost long-haul airline Norse Atlantic Airways has announced plans to fly between Europe and the United States from early 2022, with the aim of filling the budget gap left by Norwegian’s departure long-haul routes.
Norse, who was trained in March by veterans of the Norwegian airline industry, will initially fly from Oslo, London and Paris to New York, Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale.
The carrier’s chief executive, Bjørn Tore Larsen, said the airline intends to fly its entire fleet of 15 Boeing 787 Dreamliners – with a Viking-inspired branding – by summer 2022.
The airline plans to start recruiting pilots and crews at the end of 2021 and expects to have around 1,600 employees by next summer, all of whom will be directly employed.
Norse initially hoped to be in flight by the end of 2021, but Larsen said the slower-than-expected lifting of coronavirus travel restrictions for long-haul routes meant the airline was aiming to be operational no later than the second. quarter 2022.
“We don’t want to start too early, there’s no point in flying with empty planes. Having said that, we have a very strong cash position, so we can afford to wait a long time if necessary, ”Larsen told reporters as he unveiled the airline’s logo, inspired by Viking longships.
The airline expects passenger demand to return by spring 2022 and has said it hopes to sell 10,000 tickets a day once its entire fleet is operational. Tickets will go on sale three months before its first flight.
Norse’s leased planes were previously operated by Norwegian, until its announcement in January that it was reducing itself to offering only short-haul European flights and domestic Norwegian routes, after its near collapse during the pandemic.
The crossing between compatriots does not stop there. Larsen, chief executive and majority shareholder of Norse, was a co-founder of recruiting firm OSM Aviation, which directly employed Norwegian crew members and was half-owned by the airline.
Meanwhile, Norwegian founder and former CEO Bjørn Kjos is also a shareholder in the carrier, which debuted on the Oslo Stock Exchange in April.
Norse insists he can succeed where others, including the Norwegian, have failed. “We will be the only low cost long haul airline across the Atlantic and that will be our position, we will not do anything other than that,” said Larsen.
“Our typical traveler won’t necessarily be the typical businessman going from A to B. It will be more of a family of four going on a long vacation to Florida, or a week in New York, or visiting. friends and family, students. We will therefore ensure that travel is affordable for more people than today. “
Airlines have been among the hardest hit by the slowdown in international travel during the pandemic, and unlike other sectors of the UK economy, air travel is still subject to coronavirus restrictions.
Despite this, Norse is optimistic that travel demand is rebounding as restrictions relax, and said he has been contacted regularly by potential passengers asking when the airline will start flying.