Back in August of 2018, it was announced that Norwegian would be expanding into the Argentinian domestic market, launching their own subsidiary airline and planning to smash the legacy airlines located in the country to bring ultra-cheap travel to locals.
Why this is big news
A quick history lesson first, Argentina has some of the most expensive domestic air travel in the world. This is because the government has set a ‘floor’ price, essentially a minimum price of how much it costs to fly each passenger per 100km, which currently is set to $12.37.
This, however, has been scrapped by the government of Argentina and means that from October 2018 there will be no floor price, allowing a feeding frenzy of cheap fares across the country.
Norwegian Air Shuttle, a famous and expanding long-haul low-cost carrier based in Europe, has seen the market opportunity down south and saw fit to begin new subsidiary operations. This rapidly follows on from their launch in Brazil several months earlier and in February, Norwegian started a non-stop flight between London Gatwick (LGW) and Buenos Aires (EZE), which began its foray into the South America aviation market.
“We serve a lot of places in the US and in Europe, but South America is our focus in 2018, There are other countries with priority in South American that are not well served.” – Bjørn Kjos, Norwegian CEO
The new routes
The airline will launch with six new domestic routes across Argentina, from October 16th:
- Buenos Aires (AEP)to Córdoba (COR) – 404 mi
- Buenos Aires (AEP)to Mendoza (MDZ) – 609 mi
- Buenos Aires (AEP)to Iguazú (IGR) – 652 mi
- Buenos Aires (AEP)to Neuquén (NQN) – 619 mi
- Buenos Aires (AEP)to Bariloche (BRC) – 831 mi
- Buenos Aires (AEP)to Salta (SLA) – 792 mi
These routes would take an hour to two hours to fly, allowing Norwegian to do multiple trips a day.
The entire Argentinean operation will be served by several 737-800 NG aircraft, that have 189 seats in a 3-3 configuration in a single aisle cabin. This version of the Norwegian service does not have a premium economy option and as per the Norwegian business model, operates on a ‘pay-for-everything’ model.
Their fleet currently consists of one plane, but they have another nine on order.
The price of tickets
The airline will begin by offering round-trip flights for 699 pesos ($18 USD) between Buenos Aires and Cordoba, and for 999 pesos ($25 USD) for the Buenos Aires-Bariloche route. The other routes have yet to have their prices announced.
“There has been a very good response in the first hours of the sale, Inflation and the weak peso are both a concern, but our fares are so much lower than the legacy carriers, that they’ll want to travel with us.”- Ole Christian Melhus, Norwegian Argintina CEO
With Norwegian having permission to operate 72 domestic and 80 international routes inside and from Argentina, we believe this is not the last new route announcement we will hear.