Norwegian Air opens 12 new Gatwick routes

Norwegian Air Shuttle, a Norway-based low-cost air carrier, is launching 12 new routes this month, centred on UK’s Gatwick airport.

In an attempt to take on those existing budget giants with substantial UK operations, Ryanair, easyjet and Thomson, the Nordic carrier intends to cash in on the British summer holiday trade by operating routes to southern Europe and the Adriatic. Three of its aircraft will be permanently based at Gatwick with the intention of guaranteeing regular services with quick turnaround times.

The destinations that Norwegian will serve from Gatwick include the three main Canary Islands, Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria; Mallorca in the Balearics; the Spanish Cities of Malaga, Alicante and Barcelona; Faro on Portugal’s Algarve; the cities of Dubrovnik and Split in Croatia; Italy’s capital, Rome; Nice on the French Riviera; and Tromso in Norway’s far north.

Norwegian Air’s commitment to Gatwick has grown steadily in recent years, from 198 flights in 2009 to 320 flights by this coming summer with the inclusion of the new routes.

Norwegian’s CEO, Bjorn Kjos, was reported in the Daily Mail, saying, ‘We are very happy with the relationship we have had with Gatwick since we moved all our London routes to the airport. By establishing a base in London, Norwegian will be positioned to meet future competition on short-haul routes within Europe.’

The airline’s development at Gatwick is indicative of its general growth trend, which saw it place an order in January last year for 122 Boeing 737 aircraft.

Founded in 1993, Norwegian is now considered to be the second largest airline in Scandinavia.


Virgin pilots won’t strike

Holidaymakers travelling to the US and Caribbean for the summer break can breath a sign of relief – it has been revealed that Virgin Atlantic’s pilots’ will not be striking.

An offer has been secured, according to Union Balpa, and this will be put to pilots in a ballot possibly ending the strike.

Balpa general secretary Jim McAuslan said: ‘Pilots have never wished to inconvenience the travelling public, especially those looking forward to summer holidays.

‘We have therefore lifted the threat of strike action. Virgin Atlantic pilots will proudly continue their role of flying passengers safely to their destinations.’

Virgin Atlantic said tonight: ‘We can confirm that negotiations are now concluded and Balpa will present a pay offer to its members over the coming weeks.

‘The threat of strike action has now been removed and our flying schedule remains completely unaffected.’

The strike threat has been lifted, which will leave the airline and travellers very happy. Balpa asked Richard Branson to get involved in negotiations, however he declined but did offer to speak privately to the pilots, after a high percentage voted for industrial action.

In a letter to the pilots, Sir Richard warned that unless Balpa withdrew its threat of a strike it would leave an ‘indelible scar’ on the airline and ‘impact customers’ trust in us and damage the unique and friendly culture at Virgin Atlantic.’