Posted on: November 25, 2013
A trend, perhaps?
A statistician would likely tell you that three events do not make a trend, but our inner optimist is almost ready to declare that, maybe, we could be seeing the potential early signs of a possible trend: the return of "low-fare" air travel to the transatlantic market.
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Younger readers may need a reminder that, back in the day, a gaggle of low-fare airlines offered cheap seats and low-frills service across the pond under long-forgotten names like Laker Skytrain and People Express.
They weren't the most agent-friendly airlines, but they enlivened the market by making travelers out of younger and lower-income people and putting downward fare pressure on the Big Guys. Consumers appreciated that.
The Big Guys on the North Atlantic of 2013 have gotten a lot bigger, and they've teamed up in global alliances and joint ventures, which allow for cooperation under the protective blanket of antitrust immunity.
As a result, the conventional wisdom has it that the North Atlantic of 2013 is not as inviting for upstarts as it was in the previous century. Or is it?
From Canada last week came word that WestJet, our northern neighbor's biggest low-fare carrier, will offer a seasonal service to Dublin next summer from Toronto and other Canadian points. Because the service will stretch the legs of its 737-700 aircraft, the jumping-off point for the flights will be St. John's, Newfoundland, the easternmost point on the North American land mass.
Days later, Iceland's low-cost upstart Wow Air formally filed for rights to serve the U.S., a route that would give it a U.S.-Europe role reminiscent of what Icelandair pioneered decades ago.
Upstart low-cost airlines have been coming of age all over the world, but they've been avoiding the transatlantic market. Even brash Ryanair has been coy.
Thus we welcomed Norwegian Air Shuttle earlier this year when it became the first European new entrant to cross the pond with its service to New York -- soon to be supplemented by a route to Fort Lauderdale and additional routes to Orlando and the West Coast next year.
Now comes WestJet and Wow. Who's next?