The Norse longships arrive

posted on 5th April 2022
The Norse longships arrive

It takes a certain amount of nerve to set up a new airline during the worst crisis the aviation industry has ever suffered, but Bjørn Tore Larsen and his team at Norse Atlantic Airways (NAA) have done exactly that.
Scheduled to launch long-haul services – initially from Oslo – in Q2 2022, NAA will field a fleet of 15 Boeing 787s flying to the US.
NAA has been seen as stepping into the shoes of now-defunct Norwegian Air International, but Larsen insists it is a completely different animal. It will be purely a long-haul operation (Norwegian’s operating companies flew both short-haul and long-haul, with the latter proving a considerable drain on the company’s finances) and will have a single aircraft type, whereas Norwegian Air International operated a large fleet of Boeing 737-800s before adding a second type, the 787.
“It’s a very simple business model, very focused and lean,” Larsen said. “We’re targeting the leisure market, VFR [visiting friends and relatives] and cost-conscious travellers.” It will not be a hub-and-spoke operator, which he said adds complexity, but will “as much as possible be point-to-point”. As a brand new airline, it is free from legacy conditions surrounding its operations and can “pick systems from scratch”.
Larsen is confident that pent-up demand in the leisure and VFR sectors will propel the new airline’s fortunes. NAA will appeal to what Larsen describes as the cost-conscious traveller but does not see itself as a low-cost carrier.
The initial destinations will be several as-yet-unnamed US airports. These will serve popular holiday areas, such as south Florida, Los Angeles, and New York, although they may not necessarily be the major airports in those regions.
Larsen believes that he can operate without arousing the ire of existing transatlantic carriers: “We’re a very small player relatively and I don’t think we represent a threat to existing airlines. We think our product will stimulate demand.”
In January the US Department of Transport approved NAA’s application for flights from Norway and the European Union. Larsen said that London also figures strongly in NAA’s plans.
The initial fleet of 787s is scheduled to be delivered by early spring, “but we have very flexible arrangements on when we start paying the leases”, he said. “We’ll start very cautiously… and we need to know demand is back, so we won’t fly with half-empty aircraft.”