Low Cost Carriers Continue UK Expansion

Norwegian & Ryanair

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There doesn’t seem to be any let up in Norwegian’s expansion plans and it would appear that the UK is going to play a central role in the airline’s future.

I’ve already posted about their proposed new routes to the US out of Cork, I’ve highlighted their low fares a couple of times already (here and here) and I’ve mentioned their plans for a Gatwick – Boston Service starting in May next year. Now we’re getting more information about the routes that Norwegian are looking to add and it’s very positive news for UK flyers.

Norwegian Plans New Long Haul Routes From Gatwick

The Times newspaper has been reporting that the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority is about to grant Norwegian a full operating license later this week which will give the carrier access access to countries with which the UK has bilateral flight agreements. Bjorn Kjos, Norwegian’s CEO, has indicated that the airline will consider expanding its Gatwick network to include routes to India, South Africa, Brazil and Argentina.

Cape TownCape Town – Image courtesy of David Stanley via Flickr

Norwegian Launches New Routes From Birmingham

While routes to far-flung places like South Africa and India are still a few years away, Norwegian has been actively expanding its existing operations at Birmingham Airport with the addition of flights to Tenerife and Gran Canaria.

The first flight between Birmingham and Tenerife South went out yesterday (2 November) and the route will operate on Mondays and Fridays on the following schedule:

DY5341 BHX 18:15 – 22:25 TFS
DY5340 TFS 13:15 – 17:30 BHX

Flights to Gran Canaria will fly a weekly service (on Fridays) starting 6 November. Flight times look like this:

DY5219 BHX 18:10 – 22:30 LPA
DY5218 LPA 13:10 – 17:30 BHX

Prices for both routes will start from £49.90 one way and Norwegian will schedule its Boeing 737 aircraft to serve the routes. Impressively, for any airline let alone a LCC, Norwegian will offer free WiFi for the entire journey – that puts to shame just about all other European full-service airlines who still can’t get their acts together to offer the same.


Norwegian Expands At Edinburgh Airport

Birmingham isn’t the only UK regional airport to be feeling the love from Norwegian.

Norwegian commenced service between Edinburgh and Tenerife on 29 October and will operate two flights per week to the Spanish Island. Flights will depart on Thursdays and Saturdays and, just like the flights out of Birmingham, will be served by Boeing 737 aircraft equipped with free WiFi for the whole journey.

The flight times are as follows:

DY5345 EDI 15:30 – 20:15 TFS
DY5344 TFS 10:00 – 14:30 EDI

The Norwegian press release states that fares will start from £59.90 one way.

Norwegian Orders 19 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners

If you were wondering what aircraft Norwegian plans to use to service the new long-haul routes I mentioned earlier in this post, here’s your answer.

Norwegian already uses Dreamliners to fly to the US from its London Gatwick base, using them on routes to New York, Los Angeles and Ft. Lauderdale. The new routes to Boston (May 2016) and Puerto Rico will also be served by Boeing 787s.

So it’s no surprise to hear that Norwegian has signed an agreement with Boeing for a further 19 Dreamliners (of the 787-9 variety) to add to the eight 787-8 they already operate and the eleven 787-9 already on order. The new deal also includes an option for 10 more 787-9s.

NorwegianNorwegian 787 Dreamliner – Image courtesy of Norwegian

This is some seriously rapid expansion that Norwegian is planning and shows what airlines can do when they have a more efficient aircraft and when oil pries are low. It will be interesting to see what changes will happen to routes and frequencies when oil, inevitably, begins to rise in price once again.

Ryanair To Add New Manchester (UK) Routes

Norwegian isn’t the only LCC to have announced expansion plans at UK regional airports – Ryanair is getting in on the act too.

Last week Ryanair announced their summer schedule for 2016 and it included 6 new routes out of Manchester Airport:

  • Bratislava (3 x weekly)
  • Bremen (2 x weekly)
  • Brindisi (2 x weekly)
  • Carcassonne (3 x weekly)
  • Limoges (4 x weekly)
  • Malta (3 x weekly)

In addtion to the new routes (no exact schedules have yet been made available) Ryanair is adding more flights to its existing Manchester routes to, in total, show a 25% growth at Manchester Airport.

Ryanair’s full summer schedule from Manchester can be seen here.

Edited: 3/11/15

Ryanair Adds More Routes From Newquay

Just as I thought the LCCs were done with their new route announcements for the time being, Ryanair goes and announces two new routes from Newquay (the British Riviera apparently!)

From Spring 2016 Ryanair will fly 2 flights per week to both Alicante in Spain and Frankfurt Hahn in Germany using Boring 737-800 aircraft.

Newquay – Alicante

FR2903 NQY 10:55 – 14:25 ALC (Wednesdays)
FR2903 NQY 19:30 – 23:00 ALC (Sundays)

FR2902 ALC 09:00 – 10:30 NQY (Wednesdays)
FR2902 ALC 17:35 – 19:05 NQY (Sundays)

Newquay – Frankfurt Hahn

FR2909 NQY 11:35 – 14:20 HHN (Thursdays)
FR2909 NQY 14:50 – 17:35 HHN (Sundays)

FR2908 HHN 10:25 – 11:10 NQY (Thursdays)
FR2908 HHN 13:40 – 14:25 NQY (Sundays)

(HT: airlineroute.net)

I tend to focus mainly on the full-service carriers (because that’s where the interesting Miles & Points arbitrages are to be found) but I’m becoming more and more impressed with what some of the LCCs are starting to offer. The LCCs are very good at filling the vacuums that full-service airlines leave as they quit regional airports to focus on their main, big-city hubs and they’re starting to offer services that full-services airlines are yet to get to grips with (like free WiFi).

I can see more LCC flights (and reviews) in my future.


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