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There’s no question that Norwegian’s huge push in the US has caused ripples throughout the travel industry. Sub-$400 Europe fares are now a weekly occurrence, on flights operated by Norwegian and the legacy carriers alike.

While Norwegian’s a low-cost carrier, known for offering unbundled fares, major full-service airlines have been forced to increase frequencies and drop their fares — and, in some cases, even launch their own low-cost carriers — in order to maintain market share. Now, United’s feeling some pressure at its Newark, NJ (EWR) hub, thanks to Norwegian’s planned nonstop to Rome (FCO).

In response, today United announced plans to expand its current seasonal Newark-Rome service to operate year-round, albeit on a reduced schedule during off-peak periods. Interestingly, here are the details of Norwegian’s planned service:

4x weekly service (Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays) launching on November 9, 2017. In early February 2018, that frequency will increase to 6x weekly service (adding Tuesdays and Wednesdays).

  • Newark (EWR) 11:00pm Departure ⇒ Rome (FCO) 1:05pm (+1) Arrival
  • Rome (FCO) 5:25pm Departure ⇒ Newark (EWR) 9:00pm Arrival

Meanwhile, here’s what United’s planning for the route:

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 10.51.57 AM

As you may have noticed, during off-peak periods, United’s scheduled most of its flights to operate on days when Norwegian does not have service, with the exception of Thursdays, when both carriers will fly to Rome. Daily service will be available around the Christmas/New Year’s period, and again from spring through fall 2018.

United doesn’t yet appear to competing on price, though — currently, the lowest round-trip fares from Newark (EWR) to Rome (FCO) come in at $665, while Norwegian’s flight is consistently priced at $360 round-trip. Even after factoring in seat assignments, checked bags, mileage earning and meals, it’ll be hard for travelers to justify a $300+ premium for a legacy carrier, especially when you consider the fact that Norwegian flies new 787 Dreamliners while United operates dated 767s on the route. The situation changes entirely with sub-$400 fares, however — perhaps that’s what we’ll end up seeing from UA.

Which airline will you be flying to Rome?

Featured image courtesy of Marga Frontera via Getty Images.

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