Low-cost carrier Norwegian has launched its non-stop long-haul flights between London Gatwick and Singapore, its first service from the London hub to a destination in Asia.
Taking about 12 hours and 45 minutes and covering 10,885 kilometres, the route is the longest operated by an LCC in the world. The airline’s new B787-9 Dreamliner will be making the four-times-per-week flights between the two airports.
“I’m delighted to build upon our popular USA flights and give leisure and business customers more affordable access to Singapore and the Asia-Pacific like never before,” said Bjorn Kjos, the airline’s CEO. “The 787 Dreamliner has the range to allow us to expand our long-haul services to other parts of the world while keeping fares affordable for all. This is just the start of Norwegian’s UK expansion into new markets as we will continue connecting destinations where fares have been too high for too long.”
Fares for the service start at £149.90 (US$201.50) – down from £179.90 (US$230.70) when the route was first announced back in April. The airline’s B787-9 Dreamliners also have a Premium cabin, outfitted with seats offering a 46 inches of legroom along with complimentary drinks before departure, pre-dinner drinks, and includes dinner and breakfast.
Norwegian’s new long-haul service to Asia follows another LCC’s debut route connecting Singapore and Europe. In June, Singaporean budget airline Scoot – which recently merged with Tigerair – launched non-stop flights to Athens using its B787-8 Dreamliner. Scoot is a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines.
The routes mark a return of low-cost long-haul flight between Asia-Pacific and Europe, which fared poorly in the past and has since got a reputation for being financially unviable. In an interview with Business Traveller in April, Malaysia Airlines CEO Peter Bellew noted that low-cost long-haul would always be small scale.
However there is a growing tide, particularly among LCCs, that changes in the economic environment have now made low-cost long-haul travel feasible, such as HK Express CEO, Andrew Cowen, who didn’t rule out the possibility that the Hong Kong LCC would be interested in pursuing such flights in future.
Norwegian also has been expanding its operations out of London Gatwick in recent months, notably to the US, including launching a second service to New York last month as well as announcing plans for non-stop flights to both Chicago and Austin starting March next year.