European low-cost carrier Norwegian has confirmed it will further extend its long-haul offering in summer 2014 with the launch of a seasonal connection to New York from the western Norwegian coastal city of Bergen, popularly known as ‘The Gateway to the Fjords of Norway’. The weekly flight will be operated by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner between May 9, 2014 and September 27, 2014.
Norwegian has already successfully introduced flights to New York from Oslo and Stockholm, while flights from Copenhagen and its new London Gatwick long-haul base will commence next year. This will be the first non-stop service from Bergen to North America for many years. “New York-Bergen has been a long-awaited route and I’m very happy to announce that for the first time in decades, the US and Bergen will get its first direct connection,” said Bjørn Kjos, chief executive officer, Norwegian.
Bergen is Norway’s second biggest city and is surrounded by one of the world's most spectacular tourist attractions - The Norwegian Fjords, which have now been included on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The fjords in Norway have been voted the world's most unspoiled tourist destination by National Geographic and Bergen - an international city packed with history and tradition - is the largest gateway to explore them.
The city’s Airport at Flesland has been a key part of the Norwegian network since the airline was first established as Norwegian Air Shuttle in January 1993 to take over the regional airline services of Braathens subsidiary Busy Bee and following its rebirth as a low-cost carrier in September 2002. The budget airline already serves over 30 European and North African destinations (some on a seasonal basis) from Bergen and will also add twice weekly flights to Keflavik, Iceland and Prague, Czech Republic to its network from late March 2014.
It is this heritage and the innovative and pioneering spirit of Norwegian that has made this new transatlantic connection possible, according to Bergen Mayor, Trude Drevland. “The US is a big market for us and Norwegian impresses me with its willingness to take on new challenges. This service brings our continents closer and will benefit the local trade and industry as well as tourism.”
According to MIDT data, an estimated 7,000 bi-directional O&D passengers flew between Bergen and New York’s JFK International Airport in 2012 via indirect air services. The largest share was with KLM via Amsterdam (37 per cent), but there were also notable flows with Lufthansa via Frankfurt (22 per cent) and Icelandair via Keflavik (11 per cent). This is a growing market with demand up 22.9 per cent in 2012 compared to the previous year.
The new seasonal weekly flight from Norwegian will certainly support this established demand, but with one-way launch fares of $178 the low-cost carrier will certainly stimulate the market. “Norwegian’s routes between Scandinavia and New York have been very well received, and I am looking forward to welcoming even more Americans on board our brand new Dreamliners on our non-stop service to Bergen,” added Kjos.
The launch of the new route came at the same time that it emerged that Norwegian had signed an agreement to acquire two larger Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners to complement its existing fleet of 787-8s. The two aircraft will be sourced from Jordache Enterprises subsidiary, MG Aviation, and will be delivered in the first quarter of 2016. They will join the three 787-8s Norewgian has already received and the five more it has on order; four of these will arrive in 2014 and the last in 2015.