Tarom to join SkyTeam this month
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Norwegian Air's North Atlantic seats up 51% this summer, but longer term long haul growth needs NAI
Norwegian continues to await the long-delayed approval of a US foreign carrier permit for its Irish subsidiary Norwegian Air International (and for its UK subsidiary Norwegian Air UK). US traffic rights for these two subsidiaries would give Norwegian the opportunity to fly both east and west with the same operating airline and with EU traffic rights in both directions. This would increase the operational flexibility and cost efficiency of its long haul operations and allow lower fares on a greater number of routes.
Nevertheless, in the meantime and aided by low fuel prices, Norwegian is getting on with an ambitious trans-Atlantic expansion plan and has now carried three million passengers between Europe and the US since 2013. Its summer 2016 seat capacity has jumped by 51% year on year (based on OAG data for the week of 5-Sep-2016), including nine new routes this summer. It plans two more routes in the coming winter schedule and four US routes from Barcelona in summer 2017.
Well over half of Norwegian's North Atlantic routes are new to the market, which has been significantly stimulated by its entry. This has provided choice and lower fares for passengers, and created new airline jobs. Those still seeking to block approval for NAI and NUK are acting against the interests both of consumers and aviation workers.
Aeroflot 6th freedom Part 1: long haul growth emphasises Europe-Asia connections
The Western Europe-North East Asia corridor has gained attention as the centrepiece of Finnair's expansion strategy. But just over 500 miles away in Moscow Aeroflot is quietly pursuing a role carrying transfer traffic between the regions. Although Aeroflot's spread of Asian destinations is not as extensive as Finnair's or those of the Gulf airlines, Aeroflot has favourable geography and lower costs. It is not subject to Russian overflight rights and associated costs. Finnair carries the tenth largest number of O&D passengers between Western Europe and Northeast Asia, while Aeroflot is 13th. After Emirates, Aeroflot is the second largest airline transporting passengers between the regions, but is based in neither.
A member of SkyTeam, Aeroflot is not part of the joint ventures (trans-Atlantic and Europe-Asia) that define the alliance's inner circle. Its long haul transfer strategy is focused on Western Europe-Asia. This strategy allows it some independence from SkyTeam but may also aggravate the alliance's established members, much the way that Turkish has irked Lufthansa and United. Aeroflot's connecting traffic, although still an overall small proportion of its international traffic, has grown faster than local traffic.