Norwegian Adds Another Route To South America (And It’s Bad News For British Airways)

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Now this is getting interesting. It’s common knowledge that Norwegian is considered a thorn in the side of British Airways thanks to the low-cost carrier’s routes across the Atlantic and its propensity for starting up routes from London on which BA previously had a monopoly (Austin, Buenos Aires etc..).

It’s also common knowledge that British Airways’ parent company, IAG, is very interested in acquiring Norwegian and adding it to its stable of airlines (which already include Aer Lingus, BA, Iberia, Vueling and Level)….but Norwegian appears to be resisting all advances (thankfully!)

Now it look as if Norwegian is taking another shot at British Airways as it announces yet another route on which it will go head to head with its suitor.

Norwegian Will Fly To Rio From 2019

Norwegian has announced that it will launch a service between London Gatwick and Rio de Janeiro from 31 March 2019.

The route will be operated 4x/week on the following schedule:

DI7501 LGW 12:00 – 19:25 GIG (Mon)
DI7501 LGW 11:20 – 18:45 GIG (Wed & Fri)
DI7501 LGW 11:00 – 18:25 GIG (Sun)

DI7502 GIG 23:00 – 14:10+1 day LGW (Mon)
DI7502 GIG 22:50 – 14:00+1 day GIG (Wed)
DI7502 GIG 00:50 – 16:00 GIG (Sat)
DI7502 GIG 22:25 – 13:35+1 day GIG (Sun)

All flights will be operated by Norwegian’s new 787-9 aircraft.

In comparison, British Airways offers a daily service between London Heathrow and Rio de Janeiro using its 787-8 Dreamliners. Flights arrive into Rio at 20:05 and depart at 21:50,


Norwegian has said that it will be selling fares on this route from £240 one way and, according to the airline’s booking engine, that’s exactly what it’s currently doing:

a screenshot of a calendar

Roundtrip fares therefore start at ~£480….but these fares exclude pretty much everything except for a piece of cabin baggage weighing a maximum of 10Kg.

Roundtrip “Low Fare+” fares start at ~£580 and these include seat selection, a 10Kg cabin bag allowance, a 20kg checked-baggage allowance and meals….so this is probably as close to a like-for-like comparison with what BA offers.

Note: BA won’t offer free seat selection unless you have status but it does offer a marginally higher checked-baggage allowance and two cabin bags.

Right now the cheapest roundtrip British Airways fares on the London – Rio route are in excess of £700.

a screenshot of a graph

Norwegian has only just announced this route so it’s possible that BA will respond with a fare drop….but we can still see how much cheaper Norwegian’s offering is compared to the existing BA fares.

In Premium Economy things look a little different.

Norwegian is selling its Premium cabin at ~£1,100 roundtrip…..

a screenshot of a calendar

….which appears to be priced to match the lowest fares that BA currently offers in its World Traveller Plus cabin:

a graph of numbers and a number of people

The Premium economy pricing alone, however, doesn’t really give the full picture.

I have yet to try out Norwegian’s Premium cabin (I hope to rectify this in 2019) but I’m told that it’s considerably better than what BA offers….and the numbers would appear to bear this out.

While the British Airways World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy) cabin offers seats with 38″ of pitch (legroom) Norwegian’s seats offer 46″ of pitch and while BA’s seats are 18.5″ wide Norwegian’s are 19″ wide.

Those are significant differences in the amount of personal space on offer and on a route offering flights as long as these that will make a lot of difference.

Bottom Line

It’s fantastic to see Norwegian taking on British Airways on yet another of its monopoly routes and it’s great to see competitive fare pricing too.

Given the choice of BA World Traveller Plus or Norwegian’s Premium cabin I’d choose the latter every time (based on anecdotal evidence) and, with BA offering just about the same amount of personal space in Economy Class as Norwegian does, I’d book a Flex+ fare with Norwegian over BA’s Economy Class product.

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    • That’s good to hear – I’m visiting for the first time next year so all hints and tips are very welcome 🙂

  1. This flight is focused on european budget travelers.
    If you do GIG(Rio)-LGW the prices are more expensive than KLM, AF, TP, IB, LH and other… #gofigure

    • I’m seeing flights for £480 for GIG-LGW-GIG in April, May & June – is that more expensive than the competition you mention?

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