Norwegian To Start Flying To San Francisco (SFO) and Miami (MIA) – Taking On BA Directly

Norwegian is turning up the heat on British Airways by announcing direct routes to San Francisco (SFO) and Miami (MIA)!

This news comes not even 24 hours later of Norwegian revealing their new route London to Rio. These new routes are all serviced by British Airways, and in most cases, a complete monopoly.

Norwegian Air
The announcement graphic from the Norwegian website.

What are the details?

Now, these two routes are not actually ‘new’, but rather Norwegian is now flying directly from London Gatwick to the more prestigious airports of San Fransisco (rather than Oakland on the other side of the bay) and Miami (rather than Fort Lauderdale further up the coast). Both these airports are much closer to the common final destinations of their passengers and also better linked to public transport (Like the San Francisco BART (Metro) system).

Additionally, Norwegian will be adding services from Boston to Rome and Madrid in the spring. These routes will only be for the season, but a fantastic boon for those looking for cheap European travel from Boston.

For the new routes, there are new frequencies as well:

  • To Miami, the route will be expanded from four times a week to daily.
  • To San Fransisco, the route will be increased to five times a week.

The new frequencies and destinations will take effect from March 31st (Madrid May 2nd).

Why is Norwegian switching airports?

Naturally, these new airports are far more expensive to fly to than the previous ones. So why would Norwegian want to increase their cost?

“By moving to the largest airport in the region we will be able to focus on better yields, better cargo opportunities and widen our presence in search engines, attracting more business for us” – Norwegian Statment

Passenger Yield. Yield is the idea of a routes passenger demand. By being able to fly closer to the actual desired destination (Such as downtown San Fransisco), they will be able to attract far more passengers to their route. And once their flights start to fill up, they can increase the price and earn more money. To give some perspective on current passenger yields, British Airways runs three flights a day to Miami, and two a day to San Fransisco.

Additionally, SFO and MIA offer increased cargo operations, allowing Norwegian to ship more cargo to those routes.

But Norwegian has been quick to add that it is only changing the London routes, not any other routes that fly to Oakland or Fort Lauderdale.

“London attracts a large number of business travelers, which provides greater opportunities for our competitive Premium cabin out of Miami and San Francisco, The other routes are more leisure focused and therefore more suited for Fort Lauderdale and Oakland.” – Norwegian Statment

Is Norwegian taking British Airways head on?

If you look at the new flights that Norwegian is starting up, you might think they are taking BA (and IAG who keep trying to buy them) head on.

Norwegian Airlines
Watch out BA… Norwegian are coming for you

But ironically, British Airways has continued to drop their service, restrict perks once taken for granted and operate an out of date fleet compared to Norwegian. This is to the point that now there is not much difference anymore. 

If we look at what British Airways charges for these routes (Roundtrip):

London Heathrow to San Fransisco (SFO):

London Heathrow to Miami (MIA):

Norwegian will be charging this respectively:

  • London to Miami – $159.90 one way
  • London to San Fransisco – $159.90 one way

Norwegian will be moving all their flights to these bigger airports eventually when timing and capacity allows.

“We are looking at the opportunity to move another route for a second phase, but will operate flights out of both airports in these areas,” – Norwegian

What do you think? Is this a good move by Norwegian?

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