European carrier Norwegian has unveiled plans to add three more new U.S. routes this summer, the latest blow in an escalating assault by low-cost transatlantic airlines on the industry’s established players.
Using new 787 Dreamliners, Norwegian says it will begin flying July 29 to Paris Charles de Gaulle from New York JFK, Los Angeles and Ft. Lauderdale, with introductory off-peak fares starting at $175 one-way. Fares in peak summer months will be about twice as much.
Norwegian’s newest foray into the U.S. market comes only two months after it announced plans to start flying from Oakland to London Gatwick on May 12 with fares starting at $299 one way. It already flies from Oakland to Stockholm and Olso, and from Los Angeles to Gatwick and Scandinavia, and will begin five weekly Boston-Gatwick flights on March 27. Also on tap for Boston: a few flights a week to Copenhagen and Olso, and in May, service from Boston to Cork, Ireland. The low-cost carrier already flies from New York to Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm and London Gatwick.
Meanwhile, Iceland-based Wow – another low-cost specialist – last year started flying to Reykjavik from Boston and Baltimore-Washington with fares starting as low as $99 one way. And this June, it will add flights to Reykjavik from Los Angeles and San Francisco starting at that same $99 rate, using Airbus A330s. Wow also has connecting service to European cities for fares as low as $199 each way from the U.S.
For both airlines, frequencies from their U.S. gateways vary by route; they could be as few as one or two a week, ranging up to daily. And the base fares they quote can be misleading: While they include taxes, they do not include all the miscellaneous add-on charges that proliferate on low-cost airlines, and the lowest rates are capacity-restricted.
Still, even with the extras, they can represent a significant savings over the legacy transatlantic airlines. It will be interesting to see whether and how the established carriers respond to the interlopers’ low-fare tactics.
We are already seeing some new competitive discounts from the likes of Aer Lingus and Turkish Airlines, so keep an eye on those airlines, too. For example, checking Google’s flight maps, we are still seeing peak season summer round trips between the West Coast and Europe in the $1100 range, which is quite a deal for July. From the East Coast, they are still sub-$1,000 in July and around $500 in early June.
Do you plan to go to Europe this year? If so, how much would you expect to pay for a round trip from your home airport? Please leave your comments below.
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