Norse Atlantic Airways has reached a ‘significant milestone’ in its journey to start low-cost long-haul flights between the United States and Europe after it won approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation for a foreign operators certificate. Foreign airlines are unable to fly to the United States without first getting a U.S. operators certificate.
The Oslo-based airline plans to connect cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Miami with Scandinavia, the UK and mainland Europe from Spring 2022 – although a final launch date hasn’t yet been confirmed.
The airline is the brainchild of entrepreneur Bjørn Tore Larsen who once supplied pilots and flight attendants to failed low-cost transatlantic airline Norwegian. Other key executives at Norwegian, including the airline’s founder Bjørn Kjos and his business partner Bjørn Kise, are also involved with Norse Atlantic.
Norse Atlantic took delivery of the first of 15 leased Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft last month fresh from the paint shop where the old Norwegian livery had been replaced with Norse Atlantic’s new colours. In fact, all of Norse Atlantic’s aircraft was previously owned by Norwegian.
The similarities between the two companies haven’t been without a significant amount of controversy and the chair of the highly influential House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Congressman Peter DeFazio had called on the DOT to reject Norse Atlantic’s application for an operators certificate.
Norse Atlantic had, however, won backing from key players including the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) who, the DOT noted, had written a letter in “strong support” of the airline’s application.
The powerful flight attendant union gave Norse Atlantic its backing in May 2021 when Larsen promised to hire hundreds of U.S. flight attendants on direct contracts. The airline has already won support from the British pilots union BALPA with a similar promise but U.S.-based pilots unions remain sceptical.
“We are thrilled by the Department of Transportation’s approval of our affordable transatlantic flights,” commented Larsen on Friday. “This significant milestone brings Norse one step closer to launching affordable and more environmentally friendly service to customers traveling between Europe and the United States.”
We appreciate the USDOT’s constructive and prompt approach, and we look forward to working with them in the months ahead,” Larsen continued.
Norse Atlantic plans to steer clear of major gateway airports into the U.S. and will instead fly to cheaper secondary airports. Initial routes are planned from Oslo to Fort Lauderdale, Ontario (California), and New York Stewart.
The airline also plans to open bases in London and Paris.
Ticket sales are expected to open approximately three months before the debut flight.
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.