Norwegian Air Shuttle continues to flex its muscles. The budget carrier has now achieved a symbolic victory that demonstrates how much air travel has changed over the last several years.
Flights between London and New York City have always been British Airways’ bread and butter routes. Going back to the Concorde days, BA has been dominant in this market and for years maintained its status as the biggest non-U.S. carrier on transatlantic routes. But that is no longer the case.
Last year, British Airways carried 1.63 million passengers from JFK/EWR across the pond while Norwegian carried 1.67 million. Perhaps this figure also suggests why British Airways’ parent company IAG tried to buy Norwegian?
Interestingly, a year earlier Norwegian carried only 750,000 passengers between New York and Europe. The carrier’s rapid growth has not come without concern: the carrier reported a $390 million net loss in August for FY2017. While revenue is up 33%, costs are up 41%. Let’s also not forget that Norwegian is not technically a single entity, but has separate companies in Scandinavia, Ireland, and the UK together operating as Norwegian Air Shuttle.
As Norwegian continues it growth, the carrier stresses it is investing in the future. But so are the legacies, as they attempt to battle Norwegian head-on. IAG group has added low-cost LEVEL and Lufthansa has begun Eurowings transatlantic flights. Air France is also looking to get in on the action.
I do wonder sometimes if we are enjoying the great bubble of cheap air travel that will eventually burst when the music stops and there are not enough chairs for everyone to sit on. Even with rising oil prices, most carriers have still been able to report profit. But we see the warning signs at Norwegian as well as the Icelandic low-cost carriers. If I was a betting man, I’d say enjoy the cheap flights while they last.