Long-haul, cheap flights

By | Category: Travel news

Norwegian which has pioneered the re-birth of low cost transatlantic flights has announced that it will fly from five cities in the UK and Ireland from just £69 each way to the USA, intensifying price pressure on its rivals. A t the same time the Asian low cost carrier, Scoot, has announced cheap flights from Singapore to Athens. Does this mean that an era of low cost-long haul flights will really happen?

Norwegian already operates low-cost flights to eight major US cities from London Gatwick.

Norwegian will launch 10 new routes with 38 new weekly transatlantic flights this summer from Edinburgh, Belfast, Cork, Shannon and Dublin. Flights will serve three destinations on the US east coast, with a focus on smaller US airports with ‘good’ access into the New York, Boston and New England areas. These airports are Stewart International (90mins from New York City), Providence (90mins from Boston) and Bradley International,  (Aer Lingus already flies there from Dublin) near Hartford in Connecticut, which is two hours from New York City and Boston. It is following the business plan of flying to smaller, cheaper airports where congestion is unlikely and a fast turnaround could happen. An advantage for passengers is that passport and security quesues should be a lot shorter as none of the three majors on international flights.

But like Ryanair and the problems it has had with passengers being fooled into flying into airports it supposes are near the places named will Norwegian suffer the same opprobrium? If it says it is flying to Stewart rather than Stewart New York, passengers will feel fairly treated.

The first flights start on June the 15th when Norwegian will launch new direct services from Edinburgh to Stewart, Providence and Bradley. Flight from Belfast to Stewart and Providence start on July 1. The first ever transatlantic flights from Cork to Providence and from Dublin and Shannon to Providence and Stewart will launch on July the 1st.

Also happening in June, a low cost airline called Scoot will start flying between Singapore and Athens. Never heard of it? Scoot is the low cost airline owned by Singapore Airlines so there is significant financial backing available.

But will Scoot extend to London? There seem to be no plans at the moment and that could be because the London-Singapore route is so important to Singapore Airlines’ revenue plans. When the fares are announced it might be worth anybody flying to the Far East looking at using an easyJet flight or something similar and then a Scoot ticket on to Singapore.

Ryanair is still muttering about transatlantic flights but has done nothing and easyjet shows no inclination to move into long-haul. Unlike other European airlines which do fly across the Atlantic, Norwegian has that UK base at Gatwick and that is the difference for Britons – there are direct services.

Will the announcements of both airlines herald the spread of long haul-low cost travel. It has been prophesied before. Maybe this is the time it will really happen

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