Aiming Big: Norway’s Widerøe Targets Heathrow With E190-E2s

Widerøe will begin Bergen to Heathrow on May 20th, once again linking the Norwegian city to the UK’s top airport. Heathrow was last served in 2017, with Bergen to London seeing big changes even before coronavirus struck.

Wideroe to Heathrow
Widerøe will be the only airline from Bergen to Heathrow, with this route last operated by British Airways in 2017. Photo: Alan Wilson via Wikimedia

Widerøe – the Norwegian regional airline – has announced and put on sale a new route from Bergen to Heathrow. The 648-mile service will begin on May 20th and will operate six-weekly (no Saturdays) using the carrier’s 114-seat Embraer 190 E2s.

With just a 35-minute turnaround at Heathrow (!), the schedule is:

  • Bergen-Heathrow: 1705-1815
  • Heathrow-Bergen: 1850-2200

Bergen will be one of just five routes from Heathrow to be operated by Embraer 175s/190s/195s at some point this summer, OAG data shows, joining Amsterdam, Helsinki, Rabat, and Zurich.

Wideroe to London
Widerøe will have two routes to London this summer: Kristiansand to Southend and Bergen to Heathrow. Image: GCMaps

Third London airport for Widerøe since 2018

Widerøe has had an inconsistent London airport strategy. It began Kristiansand to Stansted back in August 2018 on a four-weekly basis using its Dash-8-400s. It was the only carrier offering a non-stop service between the Norwegian city and London. According to OAG Traffic Analyzer, this market has become the largest unserved between Norway and London.

It had decided to switch Kristiansand to Southend for summer 2020, but this didn’t happen due to coronavirus and Southend then closing. It remained at Stansted until temporarily ceasing because of the pandemic.

However, Widerøe did launch Bergen-Southend on August 31st, 2020, on a twice-weekly basis, before ending the following month. Southend will still feature in Widerøe’s network, though, as Kristiansand is bookable, at twice-weekly, from July 2nd. It’ll now be joined by the operator’s new Heathrow service.

Despite the lack of London airport consistency, there is a clear gap and opportunity for Bergen-London, although this market has experienced much hardship in the past few years.

Wideroe Dash 8 400
Widerøe began London service in 2018. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia

Bergen to London’s turbulent times

Bergen to London has had a turbulent decade. It had over 292,000 seats in pre-pandemic 2019, up by 16% over 2018 from Wizz Air launching Luton. This was partly in the wake of British Airways ending Heathrow in 2017 and Wizz Air’s then growing Scandinavia network from Luton. Wizz Air’s Bergen service didn’t last long, which was the gap for Widerøe to launch Southend.

Since 2011, six airlines have operated between Bergen and London (Norwegian, British Airways, bmi (before ending), easyJet, SAS, and Wizz Air) involving four London airports (Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, and, briefly in 2020, Southend).

In 2013, the peak year, Bergen-London had nearly half-a-million seats – a phenomenal amount – with Norwegian, BA, and easyJet all competing. Overcapacity was clear, with a market seat factor of just 71%. Fares would have been fairly poor too. Capacity falling since then necessarily meant increased seat factors and likely notably better fares.

London to Bergen
The Bergen to London market has seen much change in the past few years. Source: OAG Schedules Analyzer

Two airlines this summer

Widerøe and Norwegian will be the only airlines flying from Bergen to London this summer. Norwegian expects to resume service from Gatwick on May 3rd and will build up to 13 weekly departures, the same volume that it had in pre-coronavirus 2019. Widerøe’s six-weekly Heathrow service will once again connect the Norwegian city to the UK’s top airport.

Subject to slots, do you think Widerøe will consolidate London operations at Heathrow? Comment below!