Norwegian Launches New York To Athens Flight Amid Aircraft Shortage

Low cost airline, Norwegian Air Shuttle, is celebrating the launch of a brand new route from New York to Athens. It’s the first direct flight the airline has run on this route, and marks its 13th European destination from the New York area. The route goes from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos, and started yesterday, on July 2nd.

Norwegian in athens
Norwegian’s first flight from New York landed in Athens to a water cannon salute. Photo: Athens Airport

Matthew Wood, SVP of Commercial Long Haul and New Markets for Norwegian, said in a press release,

“Norwegian is fully committed to the United States and have answered our passengers’ growing demand for more destinations from both New York City and Chicago. Already serving most of Europe’s top destinations, Athens is an exciting addition to our transatlantic route network. Barcelona, which we added two and half years ago from the U.S, is performing so well that we are adding both a new route, from Chicago, and increasing frequencies from both New York City and Los Angeles,”

The addition of Athens to their scheduled takes the total number of European routes from New York to 13. Norwegian say they are now the biggest non-US carrier to operate international flights from the New York area.

What are the details of the new route?

The new route between Athens and New York operates four frequencies a week. Norwegian say that prices will start from $159.90 in economy and $669.90 in premium one way. The route is operated by a Boeing 787-9, meaning the carrier will be able to offer more than 44,000 seats (round trip) between the two destinations for the summer season.

This seasonal service is scheduled to last until October 26th, and will operate on Tuesday (overnight), Wednesday, Saturday (overnight) and Sunday from New York. Returning is on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from Athens. The schedule looks as follows:

  • From New York (JFK) on Tuesday and Saturday at 00:30, and on Wednesday and Sunday at 12:55, arriving in Athens (ATH) at 16:40 and 05:05 (+1 day) respectively.
  • From Athens (ATH) on Mondays and Fridays at 09:25, and on Wednesdays and Sundays at 07:55, arriving in New York (JFK) at 12:55 and 11:25 respectively.

The route competes against established carriers including Delta and Emirates. However, with Norwegian’s super low prices, we expect there to be good take up of their offer.

As well as Athens from New York, Norwegian is launching a route from Chicago to Barcelona, which will again operate four times per week from the 7th July. Barcelona routes are getting an upgrade elsewhere too, with frequencies from Newark Liberty increasing to daily, and from Los Angeles increasing to six times a week for the summer season.

Aircraft shortages

This comes at a time when Norwegian are struggling with a shortage of aircraft, due to the 737 MAX grounding. Running at a loss of $171m, the carrier has been one of the worst affected by the MAX disaster, with a total of 18 aircraft currently out of service.

Norwegian MAX
Norwegian have been one of the worst affected airlines by the MAX ban Photo: Norwegian Air

The grounding disrupted Norwegian’s network plans, forcing it to cancel US flights from Shannon and Cork, as well as leasing numerous other aircraft to cope with demand. With routes and frequencies being cut across the board, it might seem odd that the carrier is pressing ahead with more routes out of the US. However, it seems that their strategy is solid.

Both Barcelona and Athens are popular holiday destinations for US travelers, so in many ways, Norwegian are picking the low hanging fruit here. By launching these routes in time for the summer high season, they are assured of a decent level of demand to claw in some cash and see them through the winter.

Like all LCCs, however, Norwegian must remain cautious if they are to survive the current cull.