**Update: 2/12/19 @ 12:00 UTC – A Norwegian Air Shuttle spokesperson confirmed the new slots at Heathrow, details below**
Norwegian Air Shuttle has been granted six slots at London Heathrow Airport (LHR) according to the just-released report from the airport slot coordinator. In the Heathrow Airport (LHR) Summer 2020 (S20) Initial Coordination Report, data shows that Norwegian Air Shuttle is the only airline to have been allocated new slots at London’s busiest airport.
The fact that Norwegian Air Shuttle has been allocated new slots at one of the world’s biggest airports is news in itself. For the airport slot coordinator to grant six slots at Heathrow to just one airline is almost unheard of.
What is an airport slot?
Aircraft landing and taking off times are considered as being limited time slots for airlines to operate their aircraft.
Slots not only give an airline a time period from which to take off and land, but they also include all the necessary services like refueling, baggage handling and catering services that airlines require.
Airports can only handle a certain amount of air traffic based on their size and the number of runways and gates they have. This is why slots at major airports are very valuable to airlines.
Norwegian is stopping some long-haul routes from Scandinavia
Slots at London Heathrow are some of the most coveted slots anywhere on the planet and sell for a premium price. The fact that Norwegian Air Shuttle has been granted not one, but six of these desirable slots is is quite surprising.
The news could also very well tie in with the fact that the low-cost carrier just announced on Wednesday that it was ending some of its long-haul routes from Scandinavia to the United States and Thailand.
When talking about the cessation of long-haul flights from Copenhagen and Stockholm, USA TODAY quotes Norwegian Senior Vice President Matthew Wood as saying:
“Scandinavia is not large enough to maintain intercontinental flights from Oslo, Stockholm, and Copenhagen.”
He added that Norwegian has “had challenges with the Rolls Royce engines,” meaning “more aircraft on the ground. This affects the route program.”
London is a much better option for Norwegian transatlantic flights
Just think how much better it will be for Norwegian to operate their long-haul routes out of London rather than Copenhagen or Stockholm. Firstly, London is a prime destination in its own right and has hundreds of destinations to connect to, not just from Heathrow but other London airports as well.
Add to this Norwegian’s announcement in October that it was signing an interline agreement with American low-cost carrier JetBlue and all the pieces begin to fall into place.
JetBlue just happens to be the largest airline at several of the cities in North America that Norwegian flies to. This includes New York JFK, Boston Logan, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
This is a big deal for Norwegian Air Shuttle and will send a message to British Airways and Virgin Atlantic that a new low-cost option will now be available for transatlantic travel from LHR. Norwegian told Simple Flying:
“Norwegian can confirm that the airline has been granted six slots, three takeoff and three landing, at London Heathrow. We have a strong track record of disrupting incumbent carriers and alliances by offering low fares and award winning service on specific routes and destinations that were previously operated as monopolies. Our strategy benefits both consumers and businesses boosting local economies and employment. We continuously adjust our network in response to demand and we will announce any further changes as and when it is appropriate to do so.”
What do you think about Norwegian Air Shuttles’ new slots at London Heathrow? Please let us know in the comments.