Norwegian unveils B787 details

2 Nov 2012 by BusinessTraveller

Budget carrier Norwegian is preparing to launch non-stop B787 Dreamliner flights linking Oslo with New York and Bangkok.

Barring any delivery delays from Boeing, services will start in July next year.

Norwegian has just placed details on its website for its first long-haul services which are described as a “revolution”.

They are a revolution in that SAS (the national airline of Denmark, Norway and Sweden) has dominated long-haul scheduled flying out of Scandinavia for decades.

Seats on Norwegian’s B787 will be disposed nine across 3-3-3 in economy class. That comes as no surprise seeing as most other carriers have, or are, adopting that layout. 

What is a surprise, from the budget airline point of view, is that Norwegian will be offering a business class configured six across 2-2-2.

Judging by the artist’s impression the seats will be of the recliner type, in other words the sort of business seating major airlines like British Airways, KLM or SAS used to offer in the ‘80s.

In-flight food and drink will be charged for but it is unclear whether or not IFE (in-flight entertainment) will be offered free.

Norwegian’s first long-haul services are also a revolution in that all cabin staff, irrespective of nationality, will be based in Thailand. 

That might not seem strange in the case of the Oslo-Bangkok route but the same Thailand-based staff will be serving passengers on Norwegian’s New York flights too.

As Norwegian says on its website blog, “Would you like to work in the cabin, you must agree also to move to Thailand.”

Norwegian wants to avoid the Scandinavian salary levels and social costs which have crippled SAS in recent times.

Indeed after 63 years SAS will axe its year-round Bangkok route next April because, although there is no shortage of passengers, it cannot make money on the fares that passengers are prepared to pay on this mainly leisure route.

So by keeping costs down Norwegian hopes to compete on price with both Thai Airways (who flies Oslo-Bangkok non-stop) plus the growing number of Gulf airlines entering the Scandinavian market.

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Report by Alex McWhirter

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