Low Cost Transatlantic Flights?

Wowair of Iceland made it to the news by offering cheap flights between New York/Baltimore and Iceland/Europe. From $150 one way between the USA and Iceland and from $195 one way between the USA and Europe. I had been waiting for a while for them to start flights to North America. Wowair’s predecessor, Iceland Express, used to do the same run but then stopped operations. Still, I am not holding my breath since those promotional fares are usually quite limited and the normal fares are nothing to write home about, but they have regular promotions so it’s good to subscribe to their newsletter.

Wowair’s flights are not such a big deal compared to Norwegian’s regular fares of around $200 one way between California and Scandinavia on the Dreamliner.

Not too bad for $200 one way, FREE WIFI INCLUDED!!! on Norwegian Air.
map from gcmap.com

Norwegian’s long-haul flights have already been operating for a while. Norwegian has been losing money, mostly due to technical difficulties with the Dreamliner but the biggest problem now is that the US authorities are trying to revoke their license for flying to the USA, obviously due to lobbying against Norwegian by the big US airlines.

In the past Air Asia proved it was unprofitable to fly long-haul low cost intercontinental flights to Europe and New Zealand from Kuala Lumpur. Wowair is however utilizing the convenience of a stopover/refueling in Iceland (where the route of many transatlantic flights passes anyway), allowing it to use smaller planes and also fill them to the brim with US passengers who are going to Europe (a business model that Icelandair has been utilizing for decades). Norwegian is counting on the Dreamliner and some minor “cheating” (using its low-cost Thai crew for its flights to the USA).

Norwegian’s Dreamliner with Thor Heyerdahl on the tail. Image: Flickr

At the end of the day competition is the ultimate key factor and the US authorities are simply being arrogant by making trouble for Norwegian. Traditional airlines are more and more often advertising promotional tickets between USA (usually east coast) and various European destinations from $600 return all inclusive, especially to Istanbul due to the growth of Turkish Airlines. Some more competition by Norwegian wouldn’t hurt the average consumer at all!

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