Norwegian Air Shuttle has declared long-haul flights its “main focus” and London its core market.
The no-frills carrier, which has grown rapidly on short-haul routes since 2009, began flights to the US from Gatwick last July with a single daily service.
However, in an exclusive interview with Travel Weekly, chief executive Bjorn Kjos said: “Our main focus – our main strategy – will be long-haul. Short-haul will be more of an add-on.”
Kjos claimed high load-factors on its US flights from Gatwick persuaded him to switch focus.
He said: “It’s going better than anticipated. We had to succeed on London. It’s the major destination in Europe. It’s a huge market [and] Gatwick is perfect because there is a lot of feeder traffic.”
As a consequence, he said: “You will see more short-haul [services] into Gatwick, [but] the growth of short-haul will supplement long‑haul.
That is not how we set it up, but now we’re looking at how to organise feeder traffic.”
The carrier bases two of its eight Boeing Dreamliners at Gatwick and will add two more next spring when it begins services to Boston.
But Kjos also aims to offer US flights from smaller UK airports from 2017 using the Boeing 737 Max, of which he has ordered 100.
“Gatwick will be very important for us, [but] the 737 Max will open transatlantic services from smaller cities, such as Birmingham-New York, Birmingham-Boston and Edinburgh-Boston,” he said.
“We will definitely start flying to the US East Coast.”
Norwegian launched its long-haul services with a single cabin. Now it offers premium economy and fares inclusive of meals and drinks.
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