Norwegian Air adds Rome to growing list of long-haul, low-cost destinations

A view of parked aircrafts belonging to budget carrier Norwegian at Stockholm Arlanda Airport

By Alana Wise

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA on Wednesday announced plans to introduce flights from three U.S. cities to Rome, increasing the competition U.S. and European carriers face from low-cost rivals on transatlantic flights.

Introductory prices for the new routes to Rome’s Leonardo Da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport start in November at $189 one way, taxes included. Nonstop flights for the same time period found on Google flights start at $2,694.

The flights, from airports in Newark, New Jersey, Los Angeles and Oakland, California, are the latest instance of low-cost carriers expanding their presence in Europe and the United States, and increasing pressure on their larger competitors to consider restricted cheaper fares and redesigned cabins to compete on routes across the Atlantic.

“Rome is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, and a favorite among Americans, so it was an obvious choice for us as we continue to expand our transatlantic presence,” Norwegian Chief Commercial Officer Thomas Ramdahl said in a statement.

“More U.S. routes mean we will create more American jobs and offer American travelers even more affordable fares.”

The emphasis on creating American jobs is an important point for the budget Scandinavian carrier, which in December received long-awaited U.S. approval from the outgoing Obama administration for its Irish subsidiary Norwegian Air International to operate routes across the Atlantic.

Airlines and labor groups in the United States had asked the administration to deny the request, arguing that it would undermine wages and working standards.

U.S. carriers and unions had hoped for a more hostile environment from President Donald Trump’s administration toward foreign competition on routes, but the administration has hinted toward an interest in foreign airlines’ use of American products and workers.

Service from Newark Liberty International Airport will launch on Nov. 9. Los Angeles International Airport to Rome flights will begin on Nov. 11, and flights from Oakland International Airport will begin February 2018.

The carrier also announced on Wednesday plans to expand its service to the French Caribbean, launching nonstop service beginning in October to Guadeloupe and Martinique from Providence, Rhode Island’s T.F. Green Airport.

(Editing by Lisa Shumaker)