Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA aims to become the first European budget airline to offer long-haul flights. The company’s chief executive has announced plans to operate flights to New York, USA, and Bangkok, Thailand, beginning in early 2013.
In the same way that low-cost carriers, including Ryanair, EasyJet and Norwegian, have put other airlines under pressure within Europe “we’re going to see the same shift in long haul,” CEO Bjoern Kjos, a former fighter pilot, told The Associated Press in an interview on Friday.
Norwegian — one of Europe’s fastest-growing airlines — has ordered six Boeing 787 Dreamliners for its planned intercontinental operations. Kjos noted that Malaysian budget carrier Air Asia X already has long-haul flights from Kuala Lumpur to European destinations.
“In 10-15 years, the number of passengers flying from the East to Europe will be significantly larger than that the total number of passengers flying within Europe,” Kjos told AP at Arlanda Airport, one of Norwegian’s four Nordic hubs. “Our future competition will be the Asian companies,” he added.
Norwegian is now the No. 2 airline in Scandinavia, and aggressively challenging tri-nation carrier SAS, the market leader, rather than trying to compete with other low-cost airlines.