Norwegian Air is preparing to mount a low fare transatlantic challenge to British Airways and Virgin Atlantic from Heathrow for the first time.
The European low-cost carrier has secured take off and landing slots at the capacity constrained London hub to enable flights to start next summer.
It remains unclear where Norwegian plans to serve from London’s busiest airport although Orlando has been tipped as a possible destination.
Norwegian has up to now concentrated its long-haul network from the UK at Gatwick where it is the third largest airline carrying more than 4.5 million passengers a year.
It had been thought near impossible to gain access to Heathrow but Norwegian has been granted valuable take off and landing rights from the airport slot co-ordinator.
Norwegian is the only carrier to have been allocated new slots for summer 2020 and is expected to make a decision quickly on how it intends to make use of the access to Heathrow.
The disclosure came as Norwegian suspended long-haul flights from Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen, saying that Scandinavia is not large enough to maintain the services.
However, Norwegian’s transatlantic network is being bolstered through the signing of an interline deal from summer 2020 with US budget carrier JetBlue which also has its own transatlantic ambitions.
JetBlue is the largest airline at several of Norwegian’s US gateways such as New York JFK, Boston and Fort Lauderdale.
The partnership, revealed in October, was touted as creating “a plethora” of new route connections for passengers on both sides of the Atlantic.
A spokesman for Norwegian said: “Norwegian can confirm that the airline has been granted six slots, three take off and three landing, at London Heathrow.
“We have a strong track record of disrupting incumbent carriers and alliances by offering low fares and award winning service on specific routes and destinations that were previously operated as monopolies.
“Our strategy benefits both consumers and businesses boosting local economies and employment.
“We continuously adjust our network in response to demand and we will announce any further changes as and when it is appropriate to do so.”
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