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Norwegian Air International Gets USDOT Pre-Approval, What Now?

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On Friday, 15 April, the U.S. Department of transportation issued a proposed order granting Norwegian’s subsidiary, Norwegian Air International, permit to fly to the U.S.

While the permit still needs to be finalised, it would finally give Norwegian’s Ireland based division access to U.S. cities.

Norwegian has announced it would launch the first-ever service between Cork and Boston.

Bjørn Kjos, CEO of Norwegian group said:

“A final approval, based on the Open Skies Agreement between the U.S. and EU, will be win-win for consumers and the economy on both sides of the Atlantic. It will allow Norwegian to expand our U.S. operations. Our continued presence in the U.S. will create thousands of jobs and generate tens of millions of dollars of economic activity for the Group’s U.S. destinations.”

The approval process has been lengthy and contentious. Objections from U.S. carriers, pilots associations, and other groups continue; but at this point it all feels like a hard-earned victory for persistent Norwegian.

So what comes next?

Routes between Boston and Cork will be attractive beyond Ireland with demand throughout Europe for Norwegian’s low-cost but high-quality long-haul air service.

SAS has recently launched a route to Boston, as part of its plan to make better inroads to the U.S. market from Scandinavia, and would now face increased competition.

A future agreement between Ryanair and Norwegian to collaborate as partners, with Ryanair serving as a feeder for Norwegian’s overseas operations, has also been on the table for a while.

Both Bjorn Kjos and Michael O’Leary have confirmed these talks to me in interviews for Skift.

While Norwegian Air Shuttle Norway, already serves certain U.S. cities, it could be this new Open Skies victory for Norwegian Air International, Ireland, that finally seals the deal between them.

For travellers in the U.S. and Europe, this means more opportunities to fly abroad for low fares. If the past few decades of passenger growth have show us anything it is that flyers love low-fares.

We also know that flagship airlines have not handled low cost competition well. Hopefully, in this time of unbundled fares and ancillaries, they will be better poised to compete.

 

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