On 2-Dec-2016 the US Department of Transportation (DoT) served an order granting Norwegian Air International (NAI) a foreign air carrier permit, as required by the EU-US open skies agreement, to which Norway is a party. Almost three years after NAI's application it seems that the EU's 30-Nov-2016 filing for arbitration finally panicked the DoT into finalising its tentative approval given eight months ago.
Since launching long haul operations in summer 2013 Norwegian has grown its long haul network to 37 routes operated in 2016. In spite of the delay in receiving the US permit for NAI, 34 of these routes are between cities in Europe and the US. The only Asian destination is Bangkok, linked to the three Scandinavian capitals.
The DoT's final decision means Norwegian can now use its Irish-registered subsidiary NAI to fly long haul routes from Europe to destinations both east and west with the same operating airline, and with EU traffic rights in both directions. This should increase its operational flexibility and cost efficiency and allow lower fares on a greater number of routes. Norwegian already has ambitious long haul growth plans. Expect these now to accelerate further, and not only to the US.
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