London UK - Norwegian Air Shuttle are scheduling low-cost transatlantic flights from next summer in a move that is bound to raise eyebrows at more established air carriers.
Norwegian, which this year became the only European budget airline to fly transatlantic routes, will fly to New York, Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale from London's Gatwick airport, using its new Boeing Dreamliners, it said on Thursday.
One-way tickets will start at 149 pounds ($240) to New York and 199 pounds ($320) to Los Angeles, offering an up to 50 per cent discount compared to the best fares from London's rival Heathrow airport, Gatwick said in a statement.
"Gatwick is ideal because we have a lot of feeder flights in and out of there," Norwegian CEO Joern Kjos told a news conference. "Gatwick also has one of the biggest networks in Europe when you take all the EasyJet and Ryanair traffic there. It will give us a lot of transfer traffic opportunities."
Norwegian started flying to New York and Bangkok from its Scandinavian bases this year, saying its new Boeing Dreamliners will save more than 20 per cent on fuel, making budget long-haul flights viable.
Experts see the move as brave given that budget carriers have regularly tried to move into long haul routes but with the exceptions of a few Asian carriers like Qantas Unit Jetstar and AirAsia X, most have given up because the cost savings were not there.