Norwegian Eyes December Return To Long-Haul Flying

Beseiged low-cost carrier Norwegian is turning its post-pandemic gaze back westwards. It has now scheduled seven transatlantic routes from London’s Gatwick airport from December 9th.

norwegian rescue
Norwegian has scheduled long-haul routes out of Gatwick from December. Photo: Norwegian

Seven transatlantic routes

While troubled Norwegian previously made the grim forecast it would be returning to long-haul service only in spring next year; it seems things are looking a little brighter than anticipated.

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As reported by Routesonline, the carrier’s UK branch intends to relaunch seven transatlantic services from London Gatwick beginning December 9th. While this is subject to change, the preliminary services out of the London airport for the winter schedule are as follows:

  • Boston: Five times per week from January 7th to March 21st, moving to daily after that.
  • Los Angeles: Five times per week from January 11th to February 14th, moving to nine times weekly after that.
  • Miami: Five times per week from January 12th to February 22nd, moving to daily after that.
  • New York (JFK): 16 times per week from January 9th to March 27th, moving to three times daily after that.
  • Orlando: Three times a week from January 11th to February 21st, moving to six times per week after that.
  • San Francisco: Three times per week from January 19th to February 23rd, moving to four times per week after that.
  • Tampa: Twice weekly from January 11th to March 27th, moving to three times a week after that.

When approached for a comment, a Norwegian spokesperson provided Simple Flying with this statement,

“Long Haul operations remain very much part of the New Norwegian strategy on proven routes between key destinations. We continue to monitor the latest government travel restrictions and guidance in line with current passenger demand and will announce the resumption of operations when it is appropriate to do so.”

Back in the swing in Europe

Norwegian has also been ramping up its European operations this month, with 758 weekly flights out of Bergen, Oslo, Copenhagen, and Stockholm, with the addition of some regional routes.

Two of these, London – Oslo (daily), and London – Copenhagen (five per week), have already seen Norwegian return to Gatwick’s runways. 

Norwegian aircraft at the terminal
Norwegian is currently operating a daily Gatwick to Oslo service. Photo: Norwegian

The “New Norwegian”

Back in May, Norwegian completed a recapitalization that handed over control of the company to aircraft lessors and bondholders, following dramatic negotiations that left shareholders with a mere 5.2% of the company.

The carrier also managed to secure a state-guaranteed loan of NOK 3 billion ($319 million) as a result of the restructuring. However, Norwegian, troubled by financial woes before the corona-crisis, has said it will likely need more capital if it is to survive.

The low-cost carrier launched the concept of the “New Norwegian” in April. In it, the airline envisions a reduced fleet of between 110 and 120 aircraft, about 30% less than pre-COVID numbers. During its “hibernation” phase at the height of pandemic-induced travel restrictions, the airline operated a mere seven.

The “New Norwegian” will most likely reduce its fleet by 30%. Photo: Norwegian Air Shuttle.

Much-needed traffic for Gatwick

Gatwick Airport is facing a rocky future. Only two of its major operators, easyJet and Norwegian, have returned up until now, and very tentatively at that. British Airways had first said it was thinking of closing down its Gatwick base but is currently set to return this coming weekend, albeit initially only flying to select Caribbean holiday destinations. Virgin Atlantic has already announced it will not be returning to the airport.