Norwegian Airlines are to launch a new route from London's Gatwick Airport to Seattle, starting later this year.
Fares on the route are interesting and although they do not fly on a daily basis, they have a practical schedule, which will suit many. (They will be flying Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday)
Most noticeably, there is no "Saturday Night" rule with Norwegian's fares. This means that a flight from Gatwick to Seattle, leaving on the 20th September and returning on the 22nd September, may be had for £436.00. And you get two pieces of hold luggage thrown in.
The nearest equivalent fare on British Airways, is £2118.37 and on Virgin Atlantic, £1238.37. On both BA and VS, you get one piece of hold luggage included. Norwegian even offer a Premium cabin, flexible return for £1,229.80.
Even with a Saturday night stay, the BA fare is some £575.37 - the fare is £180.00, though interestingly, there is £229.00's worth of "carrier imposed surcharges" sitting in the £395.37's worth of tax. The same situation applies to Virgin, where there is the same amount of "carrier imposed surcharges". Norwegian has none, making their tax total a mere £138.00.
Norwegian already fly to New York, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco as well as Florida. At present, with a limited number of flights and not on all days of the week. Soon, no doubt, frequency will be increased. This will leave legacy airlines with something of a dilemma. The mainstream carriers can ditch the Saturday night rule and/ or they can drop fares on competing routes. Trouble is, if the Saturday night rule is ditched, then the major money making ability of the Atlantic routes will be lost. If mainstream fares are dropped (as well as losing the Saturday night rule) then this leaves mainstream operators open to that same criticism that surfaced with the demise of Laker Airways.
Low cost, long haul is, of course, littered with the wrecks of good intentions. Are Norwegian any different? If Norwegian can make a deal (and a deal they must make) with the low cost short haul operators, then yes, they will be, as such a deal would mean being able to feed the long haul sector from a wider range of destinations. Question is, of course, how long will the legacy airlines feel they can live with this intrusion into their highly profitable routes.