16 experts advise on what’s to come this year.
Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos talks:
It's been nearly a year since Norwegian Air Shuttle received
its long-sought approval to expand its service to the U.S., heating up
competition on transatlantic routes. The low-cost carrier remains in growth
mode and is expanding its premium offering, which targets business travelers. While
it already maintains large corporate agreements in Scandinavia, the carrier has
signed more corporate business in international markets, including the U.S.,
the U.K., France and Spain as it adds long-haul routes. Founder and CEO Bjorn
Kjos spoke with BTN transportation editor Michael B. Baker.
BTN: How has
Norwegian grown this year?
Kjos: We have
grown from 12 to 20 [Boeing 787] Dreamliners [with delivery of another 11
planned for 2018], and we have altogether 145 aircraft. Our growth is primarily
in long-haul. We have opened 25 new routes this year. The U.S. is the primary
area where we've had a lot of production, but we have also opened routes into
Singapore. For the widebody, the 787, that's only going to the major airports
like New York JFK and Seattle, Denver, Los Angeles and Oakland/San Francisco.
With the [Boeing 737 Max aircraft], we have opened Stewart and Providence.
BTN: How much of
your business is corporate travel?
Kjos: It depends
on the type of area you are in. Most of the traffic into Spain is leisure
travel. But if you talk about our widebodies, in front we have 34 premium seats
but we see increased demand for that so we are going up to 56 premium seats
from the U.S. You have 46-inch pitch in the premium cabin. You don't have a
completely flat bed but very close. You have lunches and the normal things that
you have on corporate travel flying business class. The only difference is we
do it much cheaper. That's been very attractive for business people. We are
attracting the smart business people who are taking the cost benefit you get
out of it.
[Norwegian's premium cabin has] the normal things that you have on corporate travel flying business class. The only difference is we do it much cheaper. That's been very attractive for business people."
BTN: What is your
Kjos: In Europe,
we do have a partnership with EasyJet. We have 500 routes, and EasyJet has
something like 1,400, so we cover most of the area. We have probably the most
spread out network in Europe.
BTN: What are
your growth plans for next year?
Kjos: We are
starting flying into Buenos Aires and domestic Argentina. We are building up a
presence in and out of Argentina. That will be our concentration point in South
America. Of course, we have started also to fly into Singapore. We are already
flying into Bangkok in the southwest part of Asia, so in the future, you will
see us hooking up with low-cost operators in Southeast Asia.
BTN: Will you be
using local partners in Argentina, as well?
we will do it ourselves. We have been granted concessions to fly 55 routes in
and out of Argentina, so we anticipate that will cover most of the routes in
and out of Argentina, including domestic routes.
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