Norwegian Airways will offer four weekly services between London Gatwick and Rio de Janeiro–Galeão International Airport from March 2019.

The airline said the non-stop route would start from £240 one-way, making it the UK’s first low-cost carrier service to Rio.

Premium seats – with more legroom and recline, priority boarding and a three-course meal service – start from £550.

Return flights in economy Business Traveller found on Norwegian’s website totalled around £400.

British Airways is offering return flights in March starting from £722.

The Norwegian service is scheduled to start March 31 and will run on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with a two-class configuration.

Outbound flights will depart London at 12:00, arriving in Rio de Janeiro at 19:25, while inbound flights depart Rio de Janeiro 22:25 arriving 13:35 at Gatwick.

The route was expected after Norwegian announced it would cut its London Gatwick-Singapore flight from January.

Last month Norwegian CFO Geir Karlsen told Business Traveller the airline was building up routes to and within South America as it attempts to increase its profitability.

It is increasing its Gatwick-Buenos Aires route from four weekly flights to a daily service from December 3, and in October launched two new domestic flights in Argentina, from Buenos Aires to Mendoza and Cordoba. More Buenos Aires routes are planned to Salta, Iguazú, Bariloche and Neuquén, with the Argentine government currently attempting to improve domestic connectivity.

Norwegian is also cutting the less profitable routes on which it faces more competition, including its cheap transatlantic flights from Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin and Shannon.

Norwegian flies from Gatwick to 12 destinations in the US and Buenos Aires.

Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos said: “We’re building on our expansive global network by launching the UK’s most affordable flights to Brazil and making South America available to even more consumers.

“Our new Rio de Janeiro route breaks the monopoly on direct flights between the UK and Brazil as we’re committed to lowering fares and making travel more affordable for all holidaymakers and business travellers.

“Brazil is a fantastic addition to our global network and we look forward to welcoming customers on board.”

Fred Arruda, Brazil’s Ambassador to the UK, said: “The new direct flight from London to Rio de Janeiro by Norwegian is excellent news for connectivity between Brazil and the United Kingdom. It will certainly increase the flow of tourists, allowing more British people to enjoy the beauties of Brazil. It will also help to create jobs in our country and improve competition, potentially reducing costs for passengers. For that, we praise Norwegian’s announcement of the new route.”

Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said: “Gatwick is delighted to welcome another ground-breaking direct route into South America from Norwegian. This pioneering service to Rio de Janeiro builds on the exceptional choice of destinations and fares already on offer for Gatwick passengers, which has grown to more than 60 direct long-haul routes. The UK’s connectivity into South America is extremely important for the future and a new direct, affordable route to Brazil will provide exciting opportunities for both business and leisure travellers.”