Norwegian Air received its newest Boeing Dreamliner on Wednesday, but cannot begin its latest US routes until the Irish-registered plane is approved by American authorities. Meanwhile, Norwegian’s major low-cost competitor Ryanair has announced plans to fly from larger airports in Norway that it doesn’t currently service, threatening Norwegian Air on its home turf.
Norwegian Air’s fourth Dreamliner was scheduled to begin flights between Oslo and Fort Lauderdale in Florida on April 5, reported news bureau TDN Finans. However, America’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) hasn’t approved Norwegian’s application to operate the route. US Pilots and aviation unions have protested against Norwegian Air’s intercontinental expansion plans, saying the company is dodging labour laws and breaking EU-US agreements to gain an unfair competitive advantage.
Norwegian Air told newspaper VG the company planned to begin operating the new plane straight away, but the Dreamliner will be diverted to flying Bangkok routes until the US approvals come in. It’s expected the company will have to use a replacement plane on its advertised Fort Lauderdale route.
Ryanair expanding in Norway
At a press conference on Wednesday, Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary announced the company is in negotiations to expand its routes into several large airports throughout Europe, including in Norway. It currently flies from the Moss Rygge, Sandefjord Torp and Haugesund Karmøy airports.
News bureau NTB reported Ryanair remained tight-lipped over the airports under consideration, but the company’s Nordic head of sales and marketing, Elina Hakkarainen, said there were no immediate plans to operate out of Oslo’s Gardermoen airport. “We have no knowledge of any contact with Ryanair,” confirmed Gardermoen’s communications chief Tonje Hesthagen.
Meanwhile, Ryanair has promised to remain Europe’s cheapest airline despite its five-year growth plan, reported newspaper Aftenposten. The company currently flies 80 million passengers annually, and wants to increase ticket sales to 110 million by opening eight new bases and buying 175 new planes. Last month Norwegian Air said moving its long-haul operations to Ireland as part of its own growth strategy would keep costs down and help meet the threat posed by Ryanair’s expansion plans.