In a surprise move, Norse Atlantic Airways has confirmed it will make Berlin its third European destination.
The Norwegian start-up carrier, which is due to launch revenue services on June 14 from Oslo to New York/JFK, had been widely expected to announce Paris as the next city on its route map.
The German capital joins London/Gatwick with new links to the Big Apple, but goes one further with second service to Los Angeles. Flights will operate daily from Berlin to JFK from August 17 with lead-in fares starting from €160 and $120 one-way. Los Angeles will start with a thrice-weekly rotation from August 19, with headline prices from €189 and $138 one-way for the most basic economy tickets.
With Lufthansa’s long-haul operations centred around Frankfurt and Munich, the German national carrier has largely side-lined Berlin, supplying only shuttle services to its pair of premier hubs. While this is partly due to city’s unparalleled 20th Century challenges – until recently Berlin had three completely disparate and unworkable airports – business decisions at Lufthansa since the reunification of Germany in 1990 have suggested that the capital is not a priority for its long-haul programme.
With Lufthansa seemingly disinterested in offering non-stop intercontinental routes from the city, the scene was set for airberlin to leverage its captive audience. Prior to its collapse in 2017, airberlin had grown to be Germany’s second largest carrier and offered an impressive roster of destinations befitting a major Western capital – including New York and Los Angeles.
Bjorn Tore Larsen, CEO of Norse Atlantic Airways alluded to Berlin’s lacklustre long-haul links as he confirmed the new routes: “For far too long the vibrant and culturally diverse city of Berlin has been subjected to poor direct transatlantic connectivity. Our extremely competitive fares and direct flights will allow customers to now finally enjoy affordable and convenient travel between Germany and the US.
“These two new routes will provide a direct and cost effective option, saving both money and time, for local and international businesses when choosing to travel to and from the US or taking advantage of our cargo services.”
Although the start-up is a completely separate entity from Norwegian Air, it is following in its footsteps when it comes to fleet. Norse will deploy the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for its transatlantic sorties, with both the -8 and larger -9 variants being rolled out as the network matures.
Many of its 15 Dreamliners were previously operated by Norwegian Air and will retain the carrier’s two-class configuration. The premium cabin offers a 43” seat pitch and 12” recline, with food and drinks included in the fare. Those in economy will need to pay extra from the headline fare if they want to travel with anything other than an under-seat bag.
Norse had been expected to launch services this spring, but delayed the start of its revenue operations citing market weakness, highlighting the war in Ukraine as a factor which has “resulted in increased fuel prices and uncertainties relating to travel demand”.
Key.Aero is due to be onboard the Norse inaugural flight from Oslo to New York/JFK and will have a full report published soon afterwards. Watch this space!