According to the British newspaper, The Independent, Ryanair’s chief executive has described the low-cost, long-haul upstart airline, Norwegian as “a dog”. His comments came as he rebuffed suggestions from Norwegian’s own chief executive, Bjørn Kjos that Ryanair had made a bid to buy the Oslo-based carrier.
Michael O’Leary, the outspoken boss of Ryanair, said of Kjos’ claim that the airline had been sniffing around Norwegian: “We’ve made no such offer in the last 12 months or ever. I’ve asked Bjorn to send me a crate of whatever he was drinking at the time because it must be pretty good stuff.”
O’Leary continued: “We will not be making an offer for Norwegian – not today, not tomorrow, not ever.” Referring to comments made by Willie Walsh, the chief executive of IAG, who has so far made two unsuccessful bids for Norwegian, O’Leary said: “I think, like Willie, Bjorn’s a great guy but the airline is a dog.”
For passengers though, Norwegian has proved to be a popular underdog – challenging legacy European carriers and forcing fares even lower. Next stop comes a new route to be launched this winter to Tampa in Florida from London Gatwick. Norwegian is currently selling roundtrip fares for around $460 USD.
Meanwhile, the ‘One mile at a time‘ blog has revealed that British Airways, which currently owns a monopoly on the London – Tampa route has been selling return tickets for over $1,000 in Economy.
A spokesperson for British Airways, however, said of the announcement: “With all the hidden extras, Norwegian customers will find themselves paying virtually the same as British Airways if they buy just one meal, a drink, snack and a single movie for the nine-hour flight.”
For its part, Norwegian fired back, pointing out that they had never charged for in-flight entertainment and that their pricing structure gave customers a clear choice.
On top of Norwegian’s new twice-weekly Tampa service which will served by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the carrier has also announced a number of other service upgrades from London Gatwick. Miami will increase to a daily service and Orlando will go from three to four weekly flights.
Norwegian’s service to Buenos Aires in Argentina will benefit from a daily service, as will Boston, while Las Vegas will get a third weekly flight.
However, some destinations are being cut from the winter schedule which runs from 28th October 2018 to 31st March 2019. Austin in Texas and Seattle in Washington State are being axed, while services to Chicago and Oakland in California are being trimmed back.
Speculation continues as to whether Norwegian will be bought out by another airline. The parent company of British Airways, the Madrid-based IAG has bought a 4.61% stake in the low-cost airline and has already made two unsuccessful bids to buy Norwegian outright.
Kjos said IAG had undervalued Norwegian but has since warmed to a deal being struck. Shares in Norwegian rose sharply last week after Carsten Spohr, the chief executive of Lufthansa suggested his airline might be interested in the carrier.
Giving his opinion of Kjos, Willie Walsh, the head of IAG commented: “I admire his ambition and I admire his bravery,” but then added:
“The company clearly is in a situation where its financial position is very poor.”