Norwegian to set up bases in Barcelona and Madrid
Further proof that the European airline industry is becoming truly continental. Unlike telecoms, banking or courrier companies, airlines have, possibly, become one of the first industries to fully embrace the advantages of the common market (that, thanks to open skies treaties with several countries, goes well beyond the borders of the EU proper).
Easyjet and Ryanair became the first truly "pan-European" operators with Air Berlin (despite the name) and Wizz Air (with a strong regional focus on Estern Europe) following suit. New airlines already start with a multi-country approach, like Volotea, and airlines that started out of a strong local base, such as Vueling and Norwegian, are becoming also continental players by opening new bases far from their home countries.
One of the most ambitious airlines is Norwegian. Despite its local name, the massive order placed last year for over 200 aircraft can not be understood without a long term growth plan that goes well beyond the Nordic region.
In the last few weeks we have seen a frenzy of announcements from Norwegian: new bases at Barcelona and Madrid and a commercial agreement with London Gatwick.
In Barcelona's case, Norwegian is going to base three Boeing 737-800s and new routes to at least four cities in Northern Europe (Vueling has better keep an eye on its backyard!).
In Madrid it is going to start with two aircraft, to be later increased to three and launch six new routes.
At London Gatwick, an airport where Norwegian already has an important presence, the number of routes served will increase to 33, with a total of six aircraft based there.
But what makes Norwegian's presence at these airports potentially more disruptive than if it was another airline is that Norwegian has made clear that is plans to venture into the long haul low cost market with its new Boeing 787s. This could have an effect on the competitive landscape at both London Gatwick and Madrid airports and open up some interesting new opportunities at Barcelona airport (that does currently not have a local long-haul player).