Norwegian Air Shuttle is planning to establish a UK base at Gatwick and will launch 12 new short haul routes this month. The move comes as Norwegian continues to excel at Gatwick; the airline has increased weekly flights from 198 in 2009 and will offer 320 by the end of summer 2013.
The new routes, which include many of Europe’s major holiday hotspots, offer passengers more choice in terms of flight times and prices to popular destinations including the Canary Islands, Spain, the Balearic Islands, Italy, Croatia, Portugal and France.
The airline has also increased the volume of its daily flights to key Scandinavian business destinations. Critically, flights to Stockholm in Sweden and Oslo in Norway - key trading partners of the UK - now offer more choice in the first morning wave when business passengers prefer to travel.
Bjørn Kjos, CEO, Norwegian Air, said: “We are very happy with the relationship we have with Gatwick since we moved all our London routes to the airport and see a major passenger potential in London and surrounding areas.
“By establishing a base in London, Norwegian will be positioned to meet future competition on short-haul routes within Europe. It will also enable us to better meet the head-on competition from Asian and European carriers in the long-haul market, which we are entering this spring. Growth and volumes are necessary to stay competitive in the airline industry.”
Norwegian Air, which is now the third largest low-cost carrier in Europe, has seen rapid growth in recent years. Since 2005, the airline has added over 300 new routes and 85 new destinations, with its aircraft fleet increasing from 13 to 74 in the same time period. The airline, which flew 17.7 million passengers in 2012, has over 270 new aircraft on order – showing the scale of its ambition.