Low-cost carrier Norwegian plans further long haul expansion after its British arm won a permit from US authorities two years after being established.
Norwegian UK (NUK) was granted a foreign air carrier permit for transatlantic operations by the US Department of Transportation on Friday.
The permit allows the carrier to operate flights between the UK, Europe and the US.
The UK subsidiary was set up in 2015 to allow Norwegian to build on its growing long-haul operations by accessing bilateral traffic rights to a series of global markets.
The airline received “tentative approval” in July for the permit despite opposition from established carriers and pilots’ unions in the US.
Norwegian has already announced plans for new routes to Singapore from Gatwick next week and Argentina starting in February 2018 using the new traffic rights.
With a US foreign carrier permit also now received for the UK business, Norwegian says it will be able to establish a seamless operation and more effectively utilise its long-haul fleet.
This includes the use of the same aircraft across all long-haul routes including the US, Singapore, Argentina and other future destinations.
Norwegian already employs more than 1,000 pilots and crew at Gatwick, and the airline’s continued UK growth will lead to thousands more jobs and economic benefits.
Work will now begin to establish which elements of Norwegian’s existing long-haul operations – including new and existing routes, aircraft and crew – will be operated by the UK subsidiary in future.
Chief executive, Bjørn Kjos, said: “This is great news for Norwegian and passengers on both sides of the Atlantic, enabling us to offer even more new routes, greater choice and lower fares.
“Our Norwegian UK subsidiary has already opened the door to a range of new markets, so securing access to the US is the final piece of the jigsaw, allowing us to operate a seamless operation with affordable fares to a range of global destinations.
“New routes will also lead to more jobs, and along with the 1,000 pilots and crew already working for us at Gatwick, we look forward to creating thousands more jobs and economic benefits as we continue to grow.
“We would like to thank the many airports, airlines, businesses and politicians on both sides of the Atlantic for supporting for NUK and the huge benefits of open skies and fair competition.“
Norwegian flies from Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Belfast carrying more than five million UK passengers a year to more than 50 destinations.
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