Norwegian Air Shuttle has overtaken IAG’s British Airways as the biggest non-US airline on transatlantic routes to and from the New York area, in the latest illustration of the low-cost carrier’s move into British Airways territory.
Norwegian carried 1.67 million passengers to or from airports in the New York area in the 12 months to the end of July, compared with the 1.63 million carried by British Airways, data from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey showed. No-frills carrier Norwegian has been rapidly expanding in the transatlantic market over the last five years, prompting IAG —which also own Aer Lingus--to try to buy it earlier this year.
The data showed four US airlines, led by United, are the biggest carriers of international passengers out of the main airports in the New York area. Norwegian, and other relatively recent entrants to the market such as Wow Air, have led a charge to shake up Europe’s long-haul flight market.
The traditional airlines have responded by selling a new budget class of ticket, as well as setting up, in IAG’s case, new airline Level to compete with Norwegian on price. “Our commitment to New York is as strong as ever,” a BA spokeswoman said. Lufthansa also started budget long-haul flights using its Eurowings brand.
Norwegian said in May it had rejected two approaches from IAG, which also owns the Iberia, and Vueling airlines, because they undervalued the company. IAG owns a 4.6% stake in Norwegian. The pace of Norwegian’s growth — figures from July 2017 show it only carried 750,000 passengers into and out of the New York region — has weighed on its finances and it faces mounting pressure to control costs and shore up its balance sheet.