Norwegian Air International Receives Approval to Fly to US Norwegian Air International Receives Approval to Fly to US

Norwegian Air International Receives Approval to Fly to US

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You may have noticed that in recent months, inexpensive airfares from the US to Europe — often for under $500 — have been popping up with surprising regularity. This is due, in part, to low-cost European and Scandinavian airlines (such as Norwegian Air and WOW) expanding to more routes between the US and Europe.

Last week, we got some news that’s likely to continue driving prices down. Norwegian’s Irish subsidiary, Norwegian Air International (or NAI) has finally received approval to operate in the United States.

Norwegian 787

What Are The Details?

NAI has been after a permit from the US Department of Transportation for two years. Part of the complication has come from this fact: there’s an open skies agreement allowing US or European Union carriers to operate flights between the US and the EU. However, Norway is one of only a handful of European countries that are not part of the EU. Because Ireland is part of the EU, by opening an Irish subsidiary, Norwegian should have been able to take advantage of this agreement.

However, there have been strong objections from various North American airlines and unions, who claim that Norwegian is using this tactic to pay less by avoiding labor laws. US-based airlines have naturally been concerned that this would allow NAI to offer unfairly low prices and gain an advantage over American airlines.

Exactly how this will play out remains to be seen, of course, since the approval was just announced on Friday, December 2nd.

While it may turn out to be a loss for US airlines and their workers, it’s likely to be a win for passengers. Unfair or not, the added competition from a low-cost European airline is likely to help sustain (or even lower) the great prices we’ve been seeing recently — as well as encourage North American carriers to continue lowering their prices.

And it’s not just a win for passengers, either. Norwegian has said it will purchase Boeing 787 Dreamliners for its NAI flights, which is a great win for the aircraft company. This decision by the DoT after NAI’s long struggle for approval will also set a precedent that will allow other international airlines to operate more easily in the US.

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  • That’s great news. I hope they will have prices as attractive as they have in Europe for short-hauls. Flew them once inside Europe, good basic service that you would expect from low cost carrier.

  • Takhliq Khan says:

    I wish they start flying to Washington Dulles (IAD).

  • lyudmila shvartsberg says:

    Refreshing news after all airlines consolidations brought prices up.

  • I am happy for that. It will give more oportunity to travel to Europe cheeper.

  • Flew them to the Caribbean last year. No frills, but nice experience. Expansion of competition is a win.

  • This is great news!
    I hope the competition will result in other carriers reducing the fare to the west coast as that is usually rather pricy fex Europe, much as it has done for destinations such as NYC.

  • Jon Coolidge-Harshbarger says:

    Sorry for looking a gift horse in the mouth, but I get concerned about flying with Norwegian. Worried about them having few flights per day and them not having relations with other airlines. So if we do our once every 4 years trip to Scandanavia with them and something goes wrong with the flight, we worry that we’re stuck there, whereas another more expensive airline might provide us with some alternatives.

    • Jon, I completely understand your concern. My suggestion, book your travel with a credit card that offers you some level of protection. Whether it be flight delay or trip interruption protection, while you might not be covered with a huge network of flights, you could save yourself a ton of money and potentially be protected from any expenses. Something to consider.

  • It’s Freddie Laker for the 21st Century. If it helps bring down fares on other airlines, then great news for all !!

  • Competition is always good news but Norwegian’s fares in Europe are not so competitve unfortunately especially if you consider that they don’t have that many hubs there

  • Norwegian seem to be expanding at a rapid rate. I didn’t realise they had a rewards programme. That must be fairly unusual for a low-cost carrier.

  • I’ve only flown them in Europe so far, but their planes are new, clean, and quiet. Free Wi-Fi on board is decent and their loyalty program offers basically cash back on spend with a few additional perks for those travelling on them a lot.

  • I like the idea of Norwegian but don’t think I could stomach actually flying with them. Having United Global Services status has really spoiled me.

  • Finally! Love the fare competition that’s been going on. Wish they had some reform in Canada so there were better flights to and from there as well.

  • Hopefully NAI will serve many airports on the west coast, fingers crossed for SEA especially 🙂

  • Do you think Norwegian could make LAX a focus city for them, since they have already 3 flights a day from there? Looking forward to fly with them one day.

  • I think one of the best parts of this announcement is that they will fly 787’s for these routes. Big 3 may have them, but not nearly enough. Hopefully this helps legacy carriers step up their game, because they need to.

  • Another competitor means cheaper prices.
    Moreover, the planes are new and the service not bad!

  • Yes, let’s bring in more competition to the big 3.

  • I hope they get some long haul routes on the Dreamliners to the west coast. It is so nice to hop on a long haul flight at LAX and not have to connect in the Midwest or East Coast. I’m pleased that more options are presenting themselves to passengers. Bring on the competition!

  • Kripal Singh says:

    great news expecting to see lower fair from southeast to europe !

  • ADAM PARSONS says:

    Good news to see the new connections, I can make good use of this route now.

  • I used accrued Skymiles to book a Europe trip for March before all of these $400 fares became commonplace. They may have been better served on an Asian route but I’m not going to complain about a free flight.

  • Really excited to see cheaper airfare to Europe! I’ve been waiting for this!

  • simon zelkowicz says:

    Despite regular delays they have revolutionized North Atlantic travel. The possibility to use them for oneways giv a lot of flexibility.

  • Pink Wallet says:

    Great to have connectivity via Norweigian to USA. Not only will it provide choices to US travelers, but will also open up fantastic tourist destinations in Scandinavia. Wonderful news for us travelers

  • chloe chung says:

    The Norwegian rewards program is actually pretty interesting. Worth looking into.

  • I view this as a win-win for US passengers.

  • That’s great. I’ve flown with Norwegian to Europe a bunch of times, can’t wait to fly domestic with them.