Norwegian has announced that it will fly between London Gatwick and three points in the US.
The new flights — to New York JFK, Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale — will commence in June 2014.
Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos said: "There's great demand for high quality flights at a low fare between the UK and the US, particularly to and from London Gatwick, where no other airline currently offers these routes.
"We are looking forward to welcoming many new customers on board our brand new aircraft. Launching intercontinental routes between London Gatwick and the United States is also an important part of our strategy to expand internationally and get a stronger foothold in markets outside Scandinavia."
The new flights are:
London – Los Angeles twice a week from July 2, 2014
Norwegian will operate two weekly flights between London (LGW) and Los Angeles (LAX) – on Wednesdays and Sundays. The introductory fare is £199 one way.
London – New York three times a week from July 3, 2014
Norwegian will operate three weekly flights between London (LGW) and New York (JFK) – on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The introductory fare is £149 one way.
London – Fort Lauderdale twice a week from July 4, 2014
Norwegian will also operate two weekly flights between London (LGW) and Fort Lauderdale (FLL) on Mondays and Fridays. The introductory fare is £179 one way.
Mr Kjos said that the long haul flights would gain passengers from feeder traffic from its short haul operation at Gatwick — Norwegian currently offers 320 weekly flights and 25 routes from London Gatwick — and that passengers would be able to interline, enabling them to fly short haul from Europe into Gatwick and then onward on these US flights, including through-checking of baggage (for a charge).
Mr Kjos also said that the flights would be year-round.
Norwegian had previously announced its intention to launch seven new routes between Scandinavia and the US in spring 2014.
Those routes are:
- Stockholm to Los Angeles and San Francisco
- Copenhagen to Los Angeles and New York
- Oslo to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Orlando.
On the flights to Los Angeles (LAX), Oakland-San Francisco (OAK) and Orlando (MCO), Norwegian plans to use its B787 Dreamliner, although it has had problems with these (see here).
The announcement comes four months after the airline's first long-haul flights and a month after Business Traveller revealed how Norwegian has been losing its Asia Pacific price advantage to Gulf carriers (see news, July 26).
The move also means that from next year Norwegian will be the only carrier offering non-stop flights.
A test booking in August 2014 from London Gatwick to New York JFK came in with a lead-in fare of £300.70 including taxes (£124.30) and Fuel surcharge (£50).
The news will be seen as a boost for London Gatwick.
Stewart Wingate, CEO of London Gatwick, said: "This is one of the most exciting route developments since Gatwick’s change of ownership four years ago and shows the benefits to passengers of Gatwick competing with Heathrow on routes, price and service.
"Norwegian's decision to re-establish London Gatwick's links to strategic destinations in North America gives passengers, once again, real choice about how to get there and, importantly, provide options for affordable travel to popular business and leisure destinations."