Norse Atlantic Airways has received clearance from the US Department of Transportation for a foreign operator’s certificate, marking a “major milestone” in its quest to launch low-cost long-haul flights between the US and Europe.
Without a U.S. operator’s certificate, foreign airlines are unable to fly to the United States.
From Spring 2022, the Oslo-based airline wants to connect cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Miami with Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, and continental Europe — though no exact date has been set.
Bjrn Tore Larsen, the airline’s founder, previously supplied pilots and flight attendants to the defunct low-cost transatlantic carrier Norwegian.
Other major Norwegian officials are engaged with Norse Atlantic, notably the airline’s founder Bjrn Kjos and his business partner Bjrn Kise.
Last month, Norse Atlantic received the first of 15 leased Boeing 787 Dreamliners, fresh from the paint shop where the previous Norwegian livery was replaced with Norse Atlantic’s new colors. In fact, Norwegian formerly owned all of Norse Atlantic’s planes.
The similarities between the two firms have sparked a lot of debate, with Congressman Peter DeFazio, the chair of the powerful House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, urging the DOT to reject Norse Atlantic’s application for an operator’s certificate.
Norse Atlantic, on the other hand, had received support from significant actors such as the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA), which had sent a statement in “strong support” of the airline’s application, according to the DOT.
In May 2021, the influential flight attendant union backed Norse Atlantic after Larsen offered to hire hundreds of American flight attendants on direct contracts.
With a similar pledge, the airline has already earned the approval of the British pilots union BALPA, but US-based pilots unions are skeptical.
“We are thrilled by the Department of Transportation’s approval of our affordable transatlantic flights,” commented Larsen on Friday. “This significant milestone brings Norse one step closer to launching affordable and more environmentally friendly service to customers traveling between Europe and the United States.”
Larsen stated, “We appreciate the USDOT’s constructive and prompt approach, and we look forward to working with them in the months ahead.”
Norse Atlantic intends to avoid large U.S. gateway airports in favor of smaller, less expensive subsidiary airports. Oslo to Fort Lauderdale, Ontario (California), and New York Stewart are the first destinations.
In addition, the airline intends to establish bases in London and Paris.
Ticket sales are expected to begin three months prior to the first flight.