Norwegian Air expands Logan presence

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Norwegian Air expands Logan presence

Unread post by bimjim » Tue Aug 18, 2015

https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/20 ... story.html

Norwegian Air expands Logan presence
Airline adds two overseas flights
Taryn Luna Globe Correspondent
August 18, 2015

Virtually unknown in Boston a few months ago, Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA will soon have more international nonstop destinations than any other foreign carrier.

On Tuesday, the company will announce two new flights out of Boston, one to Oslo and another to Copenhagen, scheduled to begin in May 2016. Norwegian Air had previously announced nonstops from Boston to Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean beginning in December, and to London Gatwick next year.

The five routes are the most of any foreign airline flying out of Logan’s international terminal.

“It’s like going from zero to 100,” chief executive Bjorn Kjos said. “We really want to expand from the US, and Boston-Logan is a huge gateway on the East Coast.”

It will also be among a small number of low-cost foreign carriers to operate at Terminal E. WOW Air offers flights from Boston to Iceland, with connections to London, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and other European capitals. Ryanair hopes to begin service at Logan by 2020.

But Norwegian Air’s business model has drawn sharp criticism from US carriers and labor unions. Norwegian operates a subsidiary based in Ireland that critics argue is simply a means to skirt labor laws in Norway and reduce costs by hiring workers from other countries. Norwegians are among the highest-paid workers in the world.

If it receives approval from the US Department of Transportation, Norwegian said the Dublin subsidiary will help expand its network of flights and offer more connections.

The company said it expects the flights at Logan to be operated by Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, which employs pilots from Norway.

Founded in 1993 and based near Oslo, Norwegian dubs itself as the “fastest-growing airline in the world” and is currently the third largest low-cost airline in Europe, serving 24 million passengers a year.

Kjos called Boston a natural growth opportunity as the airline expands in the United States. At Logan, Norwegian will share gates in the international terminal with other airlines.

Kjos said he was drawn to the airport because it offers more flexibility in flight times than other airports, such as John F. Kennedy International in New York.

Norwegian first launched transatlantic trips in 2012 and now operates bases out of JFK and Fort Lauderdale, and also provides overseas flights between Europe and Orlando, Los Angeles, and Oakland.

The airline will be the first to offer nonstop trips to all five of its planned destinations from Boston. Norwegian said flights to Copenhagen will start in May for $229 one-way, compared with $357 for the least expensive flight currently available from WOW in that month.

Kenneth Sivertsen, an airline equity analyst with the Swedish investment bank SEB, attributes Norwegian’s cost advantage to more efficient planes. The average age of a plane in Norwegian’s fleet of about 100 is four years old.

The company currently operates eight Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which will be used on Boston-Europe trips. The company is scheduled to receive even larger 787-9 Dreamliners in 2016, Sivertsen said. Dreamliners carry more passengers and require less fuel than other planes.

He said other airlines are trying to block Norwegian from establishing a larger foothold in the United States.

“The US airlines have been trying to avoid competition,” Sivertsen said. “If you look at how many low-cost airlines are competing on long-haul flights, there aren’t many.”

Norwegian adds to the roster of carriers introducing nonstop service between Logan and overseas capitals. International travelers increased 11.2 percent in the first six months of the year, to 2.5 million, compared with 2014.

The surge in traffic has also produced lengthy waits at Terminal E to clear customs, prompting officials to take measures to move passengers through more quickly.

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