Norwegian carrier Norse Atlantic has secured its UK air operator’s certificate (AOC) and operating license (OL). It means the UK has a new airline and that Norse Atlantic UK can expand from the country in the same way that its predecessor Norwegian did. The UK is set to become Norse’s leading country of operation, and its new AOC will be vital.

Norse Atlantic UK

The UK Civil Aviation Authority has granted Norse Atlantic its UK AOC and OL, meaning that a new airline is born. It comes three months after it said that its UK unit would operate eight B787s and have seven routes, although this is unlikely to be finalized. The first flight is expected towards the end of the year.

Speaking of the issuance, Norse Atlantic’s founder and CEO, Bjorn Larsen, said that:

“The UK will be a vital part of our network going forward and the granting of an AOC and Operating License by the UK CAA… will provide further choice and affordable prices to consumers and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic. Norse… now holds two AOCs, one in Norway and another in the UK, providing greater flexibility and opportunities for the company to expand.”


Earlier this year, Norse said all of these will happen, but that doesn’t mean they will. Image: GCMap.

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One UK route for now

Norse Atlantic inaugurated UK flights on August 12th – capturing some peak demand – routing Oslo to London Gatwick to New York JFK. I was on the first flight.

Using its Norwegian AOC, it continues to begin and end in Norway, adding extra costs and complexity. The granting of the UK AOC means the route will be much more straightforward and less expensive to operate. It can also use Gatwick slots currently used for Oslo for other services, while B787s can be deployed on routes more befitting the aircraft.

Norse Atlantic Gatwick launch

Norse’s CEO is shown center. The airline’s first Gatwick flight was on August 12th using its Norwegian AOC. Photo: London Gatwick Airport.

Unserved and underserved

Inevitably, airlines say they’re targeting unserved or underserved markets. One that’s underserved has insufficient flights and seat or freight capacity for the demand. The long-haul airline with its two-class, 338-seat B787-9s is no exception, saying that:

Norse is keen to operate between London Gatwick and a number of US destinations… particularly serving routes that are currently not served by nonstop flights or lack sufficient capacity.

Norse Atlantic Gatwick to JFK inflight 5

It is expected that Norse Atlantic UK’s first flight will be towards the end of the year. Photo: James Pearson – Simple Flying.

Seven routes?

Norse’s submission to the US Department of Transportation for its UK subsidiary disclosed the following routes – but it doesn’t mean they’ll all happen. It stated that JFK, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando would start first, followed by the others. Currently, Norse serves JFK, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, and Orlando from other European airports (and JFK from Gatwick).

Will Rockford really begin? Or will it be like Stewart and Ontario, California, where JFK and Los Angeles were supposedly selected for freight reasons?

London Gatwick to… Served from Gatwick by any airline? Comments (not all previous airlines are mentioned)
JFK Yes Norse, JetBlue, and BA currently serve it, with Delta returning next year. Had Norwegian July 2014-March 2020. Norse UK likely to replace its Norwegian AOC
Baltimore No (nor Washington Dulles) Baltimore hasn’t had Gatwick flights since October 2001. Dulles hasn’t had Gatwick flights. BA has 1x daily Heathrow-Baltimore (5x weekly in winter)
Chicago Rockford No (nor Chicago O’Hare) O’Hare: May 2018-October 2019 by Norwegian. Not surprisingly, no Rockford flights
Fort Lauderdale No (nor Miami) Fort Lauderdale: June 2014-September 2019 by Norwegian, BA. Miami: May 2019-March 2020 by Norwegian
Los Angeles No A long time ago by Virgin, BA, and Air New Zealand. July 2014-March 2020 by Norwegian
Orlando Yes (BA up to 2x daily) Gatwick-Orlando International up to 7x daily flights in 2019 by BA, Virgin, Norwegian, and Thomas Cook. Norwegian: April 2015-March 2020. There were also Gatwick-Sanford flights by others. Now only BA is on Gatwick-Orlando International, while Virgin serves the airport from Heathrow
San Francisco No San Francisco: March 2019-March 2020 by Norwegian. Oakland: May 2016-March 2019 by Norwegian, BA

What do you make of it all? Let us know in the comments.


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