Low-cost upstart airline Norse Atlantic has won over Britain’s largest pilots union with the promise of hundreds of long-term jobs at its base at Gatwick Airport. Norse Atlantic is widely seen as a successor to Norwegian’s failed long-haul ambitions but airline’s management team have tried to distance themselves from Norwegian’s controversial business model.
“Our negotiating team has been incredibly impressed with the company’s business plan,” commented Terry Brandon, national officer for the BALPA pilots union on Thursday after the two sides announced that they had reached a new collective agreement.
Norse Atlantic has already reached a preliminary deal with the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) but the airline has so far failed to convince U.S. pilots that its ambitions are worthy of a deal. In May, the Air Line Pilots Association said it would “vigorously oppose” Norse Atlantic’s attempt to gain Department of Transport approval to operation trans-Atlantic flights.
The same concerns aren’t shared by BALPA who have been fighting to secure as many jobs as possible for its members following the pandemic-induced collapse in travel demand and the industry’s slow road to recovery on the UK side of the Atlantic.
“This is a glimmer of hope for the struggling UK aviation industry that is much needed. We are pleased to welcome Norse Atlantic to London and the new jobs they will deliver at this critical time,” Brandon continued.
“This collective agreement will facilitate a fruitful relationship between BALPA and Norse to ensure that Norse is a great place to work.”
Last month, Norse Atlantic revealed its first aircraft livery and further details about its business plan. But the Oslo-based carrier also announced that it would delay its initial launch until Summer 2021 due to continuing travel restrictions and especially the U.S. travel ban.
With the news that the ban will finally be lifted in November, Norse Atlantic’s chief executive Bjørn Tore Larsen says it will still take time for demand to build. The airline also wants to open bookings at least three months in advance of operating its first flight.
A summer launch would fit into Norse Atlantic’s proposed business model to attract budget leisure travellers and families on transatlantic routes to popular U.S. destinations such as New York, Los Angeles and Florida.
Norse will begin operations with 15 Boeing 787 Dreamliners that it acquired from Norwegian’s now-defunct long-haul operations. The livery took inspiration from Viking longships and each aircraft will be named after a national country in the countries that Norse Atlantic flies to.
Norse Atlantic has established bases in Oslo, London and Fort Lauderdale and aims to have 1,600 employees by next summer. All employees will be permanently hired by Norse and some talks are still underway with other unions in Europe.
The carrier has not said what stage it is at in obtaining an air operators certificate for the United States.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.