Low-cost carrier Norwegian is to operate transatlantic flights from four airports across Ireland.
In addition to the two new routes from Belfast reported yesterday, Norwegian has announced transatlantic service from three airports in the Irish Republic.
From July 1 Norwegian will operate from Dublin, Cork and Shannon.
There will be 12 flights a week from Dublin to Boston and New York. Flights to New York will operate daily while those to Boston will depart five times a week.
In addition there will be four flights a week (in total) from Shannon to Boston and New York and three flights a week from Cork to Boston.
As with the services already announced from Belfast and Edinburgh, these routes will be flown by the new B737 MAX aircraft. They will operate into Stewart International for New York and Providence RI for Boston.
Norwegian is using these small regional airports in order to keep costs as low as possible. Its B737 MAX jets are cheaper to buy and cheaper to operate than its sophisticated B787 Dreamliners which are currently used for services to major US airports.
And these two regional airports will have minimal ground handling fees and little congestion compared to JFK (New York) and Logan (Boston).
Norwegian is making great play in Ireland of its €138 return introductory fares which, unlike the situation on the UK mainland, are not subject to APD.
The arrival of Norwegian will not be welcomed by Aer Lingus, American, Delta and United who all operate non-stop out of Dublin and/or Shannon.
But the residents of Cork will welcome their first US service.
According to The Irish Independent Cork airport has been campaigning for over 25 years for a direct US link.
The new services will also reinforce Dublin’s status as an important transatlantic gateway not just from Ireland itself but also from the UK mainland (Dublin, like Cork/Shannon, levies no APD) and mainland Europe.
Ryanair has stated previously that it is in advanced discussions with Norwegian for interline facilities. It would mean that, when everything is agreed, Ryanair would feed Norwegian’s transatlantic services with passengers originating in the UK and mainland Europe.
The extra capacity is good news for passengers (because it will mean keen pricing) but not good news for airlines whose yield (earnings per seat) will suffer.
See our feature “Narrow Margins” which appears in the March issue of Business Traveller, for a look at the growth of single-aisle aircraft operating long-haul routes.