The heir to one of Norway’s former major airlines is planning to launch an entirely new airline to compete head-on with Norwegian Air and Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) when Norwegians start flying again. Meanwhile, another low-fare carrier plans major expansion in Norway, on domestic routes.
Aviation veteran and investor Erik G Braathen, backed by a team of additional airline experts, hopes their new airline will be airborne by next summer. They’re banking on major changes in the airline industry, and new demand for air transport when the Corona virus crisis eases.
“We think the timing for this now is good, because we don’t think the market will come back like it was before the Corona pandemic,” Braathen stated in a press release. His group is also exploiting a time when both Norwegian and SAS remain mostly grounded, burdened by debt and parked planes, and in dire need of fresh capital and government aid.
Details of the risky venture remained sketchy, but several members of Braathen’s team were heavily involved with Norwegian Air during its startup and expansion. Braathen himself is from the family that formerly controlled airline Braathens SAFE, which ran service within Norway and, in its early days, to South Africa and the Far East, hence the SAFE in its name. It was taken over by SAS around 20 years ago.
Meanwhile, the low-fare airline Wizz Air, based in Hungary, announced its intentions to expand beyond its current flights from Eastern Europe to the Torp Airport in Sandefjord. Wizz now plans to launch three new domestic routes from Oslo Gardermoen to Bergen, Trondheim and Tromsø with ticket prices as low as NOK 199.
The plan is to also compete directly against Norwegian, SAS, Widerøe and presumably Braathen’s airline within Norway, using two Airbus 320 and 321 aircraft with 230 seats each that will be based at OSL Gardermoen. Service is due to begin from November 3.