Having received its long-awaited approval to operate U.S.
flights through an Ireland-based subsidiary, Norwegian Air Group will shortly
announce three-way routes that originate in Europe, go to the U.S. and then
continue on to South America.
"That will be something that we will see soon," Norwegian
Air spokeswoman Real Hamilton-Romeo said in an interview Monday.
South America routes will be part of a quickening expansion
of Norwegian's transatlantic service that will be made possible by the
Department of Transportation's approval Friday of a foreign air certificate for
Norwegian Air International (NAI), as well as by the airline's plan to take
delivery of nine Boeing 787 Dreamliners and six 737-Max aircraft next year.
Norwegian has already been expanding aggressively in the
U.S. and the Caribbean under its Norway-based Norwegian Air Shuttle brand. The
carrier now operates a total of 47 routes to Europe and the Caribbean from
eight U.S. cities.
But it will be easier for Norwegian to expand its service
into South America now that NAI has been approved, Hamilton-Romeo said, because
Ireland is a member of the European Union while Norway is not. As a result, NAI
can more easily take advantage of EU aviation agreements than Norwegian Air
Hamilton-Romeo said that the first new route announcements
resulting from the NAI approval will come very soon, and will likely be for
flights from Cork, Ireland, to the northeast U.S.
The general public won't notice a difference between flights
operated under the NAI license and those operated under Norwegian's longer-standing
foreign air permit, as they will be marketed under the same brand and have the
Hamilton-Romeo's comments came on a day in which Norwegian
announced an increase in its service from London to the U.S., though the
decision had been made before last Friday's DOT ruling.
The low-cost transatlantic carrier will up its total
frequencies between London Gatwick and Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Los Angeles,
Oakland and New York from 20 per week to 32 per week over the course of next
spring and summer.
Meanwhile, Norwegian announced Saturday that it will open
pilot and flight attendant training bases in New York and Boston next year to
accompany its base in Fort Lauderdale. The carrier said that it would create at
least another 150 American flight attendant and pilot jobs next year.
During the nearly 3-year review process for the NAI permit,
U.S. unions, accompanied by Delta, American and United, vigorously opposed
approval, saying that Norwegian Air was seeking to use Ireland as a so-called
flag of convenience in order to take advantage of employment laws that are laxer
than those of Norway.
On Monday, Ed Wytkind, executive director of the
Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, said that if Norwegian lives
up to its commitment to hire U.S. crew under U.S. law, "then that's a good
But he said that Norwegian employs some of its European
flight crew under contracts signed with a Singapore-based employment agency.
The AFL-CIO, he said, is urging President Obama to reverse the