Norwegian Air Announces New Service Between US Cities and Barcelona, Hints at More Expansion
Historically, flying transatlantic between the US and Europe has required travelers to fork over a pretty substantial chunk of cash. But that all changed when low-cost carrier Norwegian Air stepped on the scene, taking the transatlantic market by storm. Since its first European flights from New York (JFK) and Fort Lauderdale (FLL) in 2012, the carrier has expanded its network at an alarming (and exciting) rate, offering travelers a low-cost option for travel to and from Europe.
And today, Norwegian's announced that it's expanding its US to Europe network even further. The carrier is launching service from several cities in the US to Barcelona (BCN), the most notable of which being the addition of Newark (EWR) to its route network. Here are the new routes to Barcelona and the launch dates:
- Newark (EWR) to Barcelona (BCN) — begins June 6, 2017, with 2x weekly service until the end of August when it will start 4x weekly service. Fares start at $189 one-way.
- Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to Barcelona (BCN) — begins August 22, 2017, with 2x weekly service. Fares start at $189 one-way.
- Los Angeles (LAX) to Barcelona (BCN) — begins June 5, 2017, with 2x weekly service until the end of August when it will start 3x weekly service. Fares start at $199 one-way.
- Oakland/San Francisco (OAK) to Barcelona (BCN) — begins June 7, 2017, with 2x weekly service until the end of August when it will start 3x weekly service. Fares start at $199 one-way.
The new Newark service is the first from the airport for the carrier, which previously operated all of its New York flights from JFK. Norwegian's Chief Commercial Officer Thomas Ramdahl told TPG that the carrier's expansion to Newark had to do with both the opening of new slots at the airport and looking to expand to a new market and other customers in the New Jersey area. Ramdahl also hinted that the carrier was in talks with a third New York-area airport to offer more service between its growing New York market and Europe, but he didn't specify the airport.
Ramdahl said that Norwegian is also planning to introduce long-haul service with its new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft as soon as 2018, as it's taking delivery of six of them in June 2017. These smaller 737 MAX aircraft are capable of long-haul routes from the East Coast to the UK — cities like Edinburgh (EDI) and London (LGW). The use of these smaller aircraft could help in expanding the airline's route network to smaller European cities so passengers don't have to transfer at larger hubs. In addition, Norwegian will continue to use its 787 Dreamliners on other routes, such as from the West Coast to Europe.
As part of the announcement, Norwegian also shared plans to add service from the Bay Area to another European destination — Copenhagen, Denmark (CPH). The new OAK-CPH route will be the fifth between the Bay Area and Europe since it began, and it's expected to begin next spring.
Ramdahl told TPG that the expansions aren't done yet, as Norwegian's had its eyes set on several other European cities for nonstop service from the US — Madrid (MAD), Rome (FCO), Budapest (BUD) and Prague (PRG), to name a few. However, there aren't any set plans as of now. Next year, Norwegian's focusing on offering passengers more frequent flights within its existing route network — like bumping some of its new Barcelona services from 2x weekly service to 3x or 4x weekly service, and increasing its Paris frequencies.
Last year, Norwegian took the internet by storm when it announced that it was planning to offer $69 one-way fares between the US and Europe. When asked about the status of this, Ramdahl said that if Norwegian can come to an agreement with select airports, the $69 one-way fares could be available before this year's holiday season. These fares will be offered on the carrier's shortest-haul flights, for example between the East Coast and Edinburgh (EDI).
As of today, the new Barcelona routes are bookable on Norwegian's website, and the pricing is about as cheap as you'll find on any transatlantic routes. Don't forget that with certain foreign carriers — especially Norwegian — you can sometimes get even cheaper fares by booking on the foreign version of the carrier's website.
Although Norwegian is a low-cost carrier, its product is nothing to shy away from. TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig and TPG himself both flew the carrier's premium product and thoroughly enjoyed their experiences. In addition, the economy product was solid on a transatlantic flight — especially in a bulkhead seat.
These new routes are the latest in the seemingly constant expansion of Norwegian's route network. Currently, Norwegian offers a greater number of nonstop routes from the US to Europe than any other European airline. And the hints from CCO Ramdahl make it seem like there are certainly more exciting things to come in the not-too-distant future.