• Norwegian, European low cost.


    Europe's best low-cost airline is invading America, and its US rivals should be afraid.


    Norwegian, European low cost.

    Boeing 737 800 Norwegian Air.

    Norwegian Air has been named the best low-cost airline in Europe for the fourth consecutive year by the leading consumer-aviation website Skytrax.

    The airline also took home the prize for best long-haul low-cost airline in the world.

    Norwegian was presented with the awards at a ceremony on Tuesday at the 2016 Farnborough Airshow.

    "We believe that not only should air travel be affordable to all but also that low cost can still mean high quality," Norwegian CEO Bjørn Kjos said in a statement.

    "These awards give us huge momentum as we continue our ambitious expansion plans in Europe, the US, and beyond."

    Norwegian is certainly making its presence felt.

    The expansion of the company's Norwegian Air International subsidiary into the US has ruffled feathers. It's a potentially industry-changing move that US airlines and unions have vigorously opposed.

    The US airlines are objecting on the grounds that NAI could exploit foreign labor laws, but in truth they should be worried about the kind of international network the carrier is attempting to create.

    Norwegian, European low cost.

    (Norwegian Air CEO Bjørn Kjos in the cockpit of a Boeing 787.Norwegian).In April the US Department of Transportation tentatively approved the Irish — yes, Irish —airline's application to fly into the US.

    You may be wondering why an airline called "Norwegian" would be based in Ireland. That's the root of the issue.

    NAI is one of several subsidiaries operating under the Norwegian banner. Unlike the rest of the company, including Norwegian Air Shuttle, NAI is based in Dublin instead of in Norway.

    This, critics say, allows NAI to take advantage of Ireland's employment laws, which are significantly less stringent than Norway's. As a result, they say, NAI could hire lower-cost pilots and crew members from Asia to fly transatlantic routes. (The company says its current service to the US is operated by NAS with Europe-based crews.)

    AFL-CIO Transportation president Edward Wytkind referred to the DOT's decision as one to "green-light this low-road air carrier whose operating plan will destroy fair competition and extinguish middle-class airline jobs here and in Europe."

    But NAI says none of its Asia-based crews will operate flights into and out of the US. Further, the pay differential between the airline's Asia- and Europe-based pilots is roughly 1%, Norwegian Air spokesman Anders Lindstrom told Business Insider.

    And all this complaining about NAI is happening even though it is tiny, with a fleet of just 10 Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The major US airlines and their European alliance partners have more than 1,000 wide-body long-haul jets at their disposal and are responsible for more than 80% of the traffic across the Atlantic.


    Here's why Norwegian is scary.

    Here's the real problem for US airlines: Norwegian is going to expand rapidly and in a way that eats at the foundation of the hub-based system that major US airlines depend on for survival.
    How? By offering direct flights to smaller cities in the US from underserved cities in Northern Europe.

    Norwegian, European low cost.

    Norwegian Air flight attendant cabin crew".

    In practice, this means passengers in Hartford, Connecticut, or Providence, Rhode Island, no longer have to fly to Boston or New York for an international trip. Instead, for a far lower cost than a US carrier, they might fly NAI to Oslo, Norway; Stockholm; or Hamburg, Germany. Later this year, Norwegian is launching service to Paris from New York, Los Angeles, and Fort Lauderdale.



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