Green Light for Norwegian

Norwegian Air International’s (NAI’s) foreign air carrier permit has finally been approved by the US Department of Transportation (DOT), paving the way for the carrier to begin transatlantic services between Ireland and the US.

Ireland-based NAI had originally applied for the permit three years ago, but the DOT was reluctant to give it the go ahead amid concerns raised by US carriers.  The authority tentatively sanctioned the application in April but final approval only came on December 2.

“Regardless of our appreciation of the public policy arguments raised by opponents, we have been advised that the law and our bilateral obligations leave us no avenue to reject this application,” the DOT wrote in its final order.

Norwegian CEO Bjørn Kjos said: “We welcome the long overdue news that Norwegian Air International has finally been awarded a foreign air carrier permit by the US Department of Transportation.  The decision paves the way for greater competition, more flights and more jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. Above all, it is a victory for millions of passengers who will benefit from more choice and lower fares.  We now look forward to continuing our global expansion, delivering new routes, more jobs and economic boosts.”

The news came as Norwegian announced a major expansion of its Transatlantic services from London/Gatwick.  The low-cost carrier is increasing the number of long-haul flights it operates from the East Sussex airport by 55%, raising from 22 weekly departures to 34.

Thomas Ramdahl, Norwegian’s CCO, said: “Our US flights are more popular than ever and customer demand shows low-cost long-haul flights are here to stay.  By expanding the number of transatlantic flights from Gatwick, we are giving tourists and business passengers more flexibility, attractive fares and convenient schedules.  With nine more 787 Dreamliners entering our fleet next year, this will be just the beginning of our UK expansion.  Norwegian will continue to grow the number of great value flights to the US and drive down fares to become the UK’s number one airline of choice.”

Services to New York/JFK will increase to double-daily (except Wednesday) from August 10 with Los Angeles becoming daily in April.  There will also be five weekly departures to Oakland-San Francisco while Orlando and Fort Lauderdale will operate thrice- and twice-weekly respectively.

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