It’s been recently announced that Norwegian Air, the long haul low-cost airline from Scandinavia, has booked HiFly’s A380 to fly to New York.
If you did not know already, HiFly is a ‘wet lease’ Airline. You can’t actually book to fly on their planes, they do not offer any routes, only that they rent out the aircraft to other airlines. However what is different from the normal long-term rental there’s very common in the Aviation industry, is that they offer a short-term lease, including fuel and crew, to airlines that are desperate for an aircraft.
Very recently HiFly purchased an ex-Singapore Airlines A380, the first of which was revealed recently at the Farnborough Airshow and has been running some short haul routes. HiFly flew their A380 for Thomas Cook short-haul (Copenhagen to Larnaca) last week and has booked it to fly for Air Austra (Reunion to Paris) at the end of August.
The new deal is to replace one Norwegian’s Boeing 787–9 flights, daily between London Gatwick and New York. It will run between August 3rd and August 23rd. We as of yet don’t know who will be renting the plane next (After Air Austra) but there is a strong possibility that this goes well for Norwegian, they will renew their lease.
Norwegian has been hit previously by engine troubles with their Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners (ongoing issues with the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines), and this A380 being available could not come at a better time. In fact, they had to cancel flight today due to technical problems with the 787!
“Norwegian has contracted a Hi-Fly A380 aircraft to operate our evening London-New York and overnight New York-London services for several weeks in August as continued issues with a specific Rolls Royce engine type affecting our 787 Dreamliner fleet has reduced our aircraft availability,” – Norwegian Airlines spokesperson said in a statement to website TPG
As you may already know, the HiFly A380 features Singapore Airlines old first-class lie-flat seats, but the leaseholder airline itself (Norwegian) only offer up to premium economy. What seems to happen in this case is that anybody that has booked premium economy for this flight, is able to upgrade themselves free of charge to a first-class suite. We like to imagine that a few customers didn’t even know this is a possibility will be very pleasantly surprised when they board.
Passengers will not be able to book specific seats on this plane, as the Norwegian system does not have a seat map of A380 yet. A representative of Norwegian airlines has said that passengers will be randomly assigned, so of the 72 premium economy seats, there will be 12 lucky passengers who will have a private suite.
“The A380 superjumbo offers a high-quality experience between London and New York courtesy of Norwegian.”
It appears that both of these flights are currently completely sold out to existing customers. At first it may seem a little bit strange as now there is an extra 125 seats available on this route, but August is an incredibly busy time between Europe and North America in Norwegian would have no problem filling the capacity.