In what is a significant development, Norwegian says it wants to operate flights between Stockholm Arlanda and Dubai using recently acquired B737 MAX 8 aircraft.
Norwegian has filed plans for six weekly flights linking the two cities and the service would start on October 30, according to routesonline.com.
Right now details of schedules and fares have yet to be announced because formal approval is required from the relevant aviation authorities.
But there is no reason why approval would not be granted as Dubai’s Emirates has plied the route since 2013 and Dubai itself practises a liberal ‘open-skies’ policy.
An executive of Norwegian confirmed the news to Business Traveller and told me that the airline would have six B737 Max 8 aircraft in service this year.
Why Dubai? Because “More people are likely to travel there in the winter rather than North America. We will probably be announcing new routes soon,” I was told.
The news is significant because travellers consider Dubai a long-haul destination served primarily with widebody aircraft like the A380 B777-300ER, A330 and so on.
Norwegian will be the first airline to operate a Gulf service with these new aircraft which have been developed for long distance service and which are already plying transatlantic routes.
It is also significant because in the coming years we can expect to see more airlines developing Europe/Scandinavia-Gulf routings using B737 Max 8, and the not yet constructed Airbus A321LRs, in place of widebody equipment.
Some of these new services will surely be operating from UK airports and especially the regions.
It is true that Emirates already plies Dubai-Stockholm daily with larger B777-300ERs featuring first, business and economy class.
But if the price is right Norwegian’s service could be a useful alternative for sun-seeking Scandinavians, VFR (visiting friends and relations) travellers and economy-minded business people alike.
Flight time varies (depending on direction of travel) between six hours 15 minutes and six hours 30 minutes.
Today certain other Gulf airlines also operate with narrowbody aircraft like the B737 and A320. But these are aircraft of an earlier generation and operate to European destinations closer to the Gulf.
To read our article on how the new range of Boeing and Airbus aircraft are set to revolutionise long distance flying, see Narrow Margins in the March 2017 issue of Business Traveller.