Norse Atlantic Airways is the latest airline to attempt to turn low-cost transatlantic air travel between the United States and Europe into a viable business endeavor.
The Oslo-based airline officially began selling tickets on Thursday, with the inaugural aircraft departing Norway on June 14 for New York JFK. Starting at $129 one-way, the startup promises entry-level prices that include only a small laptop bag or rucksack and no meals.
The airline, which was founded by Norwegian industrialist Bjorn Tore Larsen, has had to postpone its debut on multiple times. The pandemic caused multiple setbacks, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threw another wrench in Larsen’s aspirations for transatlantic supremacy.
The airline plans to fly from Oslo to New York JFK, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Los Angeles initially, but more US routes are expected to be confirmed soon.
Norse has also acquired transatlantic slots at London Gatwick Airport, and Larsen has ambitions to launch services from Paris and Rome. The business model is uncannily similar to the one tried but failed to make profitable by Norwegian Air Shuttle.
Larsen (who supplied crew to Norwegian through his third-party aviation employment company) has opted to recreate the concept by leasing Norwegian’s vintage Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
Some of Larsen’s former Norwegian colleagues have aided him in realizing his dream, but the new carrier promises significant changes – in particular, Norse is directly employing staff, and the airline negotiated a flight attendant contract in the United States months ago to avoid any potential criticism.
“This is a major milestone for all of us at Norse Atlantic Airways and a testament to the dedication and determination of colleagues from across the airline who have made this possible,” Larsen commented on Thursday.
“Norse now offers the lowest one-way point to point transatlantic fares in the market. Whether traveling on business, leisure or simply wishing to explore the world, Norse now makes it possible for everyone to explore for less,” he continued.
Although the exteriors of Larsen’s leased Dreamliners have been repainted, the interiors will be nearly identical to those offered by Norwegian. A big economy cabin with seatback entertainment and USB charging will be available, while a smaller Premium cabin with recliner-style seats and a 43″ seat pitch will be available.
Customers will only be able to bring on a small hand luggage item that fits beneath the seat in front of them on the cheapest advertised fares known as ‘Light.’
Passengers will be able to purchase additional luggage and meals starting at $20 or upgrade to a Classic or Plus cost that includes all of these extras.
Norse plans to begin service to Fort Lauderdale on June 18, Orlando on July 5, and Los Angeles on August 9 if everything goes according to plan. Larsen had intended to fly into smaller, secondary airports to serve New York and Los Angeles. In favor of JFK and LAX, that concept has now been abandoned.