Norwegian is the latest airline to announce plans to put its planes back in the skies over Europe. The carrier will add several routes from its hubs in Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen as it seeks to meet growing passenger demand. The move marks a return to international service for the carrier; it has been operating domestic flights within Norway for critical transportation in recent weeks.
As competition in the industry begins to recover over the summer period Norwegian will be in a position to continue to offer our customers great value and service while contributing to the gradual yet important return to normality for both the tourism sector and society as a whole.– Jacob Schram, Norwegian CEO
The new schedule adds a dozen aircraft to Norwegian’s active fleet of 737s and increases the route count to 76. The domestic Norway flights saw 8 aircraft flying 13 routes.
Copenhagen and Stockholm appear focused on leisure destinations, with the Mediterranean strongly represented.
Oslo includes many of those same beach hotspots but also more business routes across Europe. Also notable is that many routes will fly less than daily for the carrier.
The increased operations represent a move toward returning to normal, but even with 20 planes flying Norwegian’s July operation will be a small shell of what it once was. The carrier has 82 737-800 aircraft in its fleet, making the 2020 flight levels less than a quarter of the prior year. CEO Jacob Schram suggests the measured restart “will ensure that we remain in line with competing carriers” as key destinations return to the route map.
Changes to the on-board experience
Like many airlines, Norwegian is changing up its inflight experience significantly with the new service. Facemask use is required for all travelers aged six and above and the carrier encourages passengers to remain distanced during boarding and deplaning. But seats will not be blocked on board, though the carrier says they will be the last seats assigned.
All catering services on board are also suspended, a move Norwegian implemented to reduce passenger/crew interactions.
Finally, the carrier is requiring that all carry-on bags be stowed under the seat rather than in overhead bins “to minimise queuing in the cabin.” For travelers that normally bring larger hand baggage on board Norwegian will now require that those bags be checked in the hold. The company is still selling its LowFare+ and Flex fares that advertise an overhead cabin bag, despite the limitation on bringing those on board.
With the company typically taking in ~$19 per passenger in ancillary revenues perhaps the shift to checked bag fees will help offset the losses from no in-flight sales.
All images/maps are courtesy of Norwegian via CC.