Earlier this week, low-cost-carrier Norwegian's CEO Bjorn Kjos outlined the airline's UK expansion plans and gave several hints at future US expansion plans.
Mr. Kjos stated that Norwegian would take delivery of eight new Airbus A321neo LR aircraft in 2019. The A321neo LR will be Norwegian’s first Airbus aircraft to fly in its fleet and plans are underway to use these aircraft from London Gatwick (LGW) to the US East Coast and Midwest. Cities such as Detroit, Philadelphia and Minneapolis are examples of destinations that could be served. Norwegian will also consider routes to the Middle East using the Airbus A321neo LR.
While Norwegian has no definite plans on where it will use the new A321neo LR aircraft, I found it incredibly interesting that Mr. Kjos mentioned specific cities for possible expansion. I think Detroit, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia are ripe for more competition.
Detroit (DTW) – Delta Air Lines hub with a nonstop route to London Heathrow (LHR). No current competition on the low-cost-carrier side, but WOW air is expanding to DTW in April.
Minneapolis (MSP) – Delta Air Lines hub with nonstop routes to London Heathrow (LHR). Low-cost-carriers are Icelandair with limited service from Condor.
Philadelphia (PHL) – American Airlines hub with nonstop routes to London Heathrow (LHR). Delta and British Airways also provide nonstop service to London. Only low-cost-carrier is Icelandair.
Detroit and Minneapolis have long been Delta strongholds and nonstop transatlantic competition from Norwegian would come as a welcomed relief for residents of Michigan and Minnesota. While both cities have at least one low-cost-carrier, there is no competition for nonstop routes to London.
So why mention the expansion cities? Is Norwegian currently in talks to expand to these airports or is this a ploy to keep WOW air and Icelandair from expanding to those cities? Only time will tell and we should hear more on Norwegian's specific expansion plans in 2019. Until then, I'll secretly hold out hope that MSP (my local airport), gets a little Norwegian love in 2020.