Hump Day Fare Hacks: December 7, 2017

Norwegian Index for December 7, 2017: 264.3

Oh my Stockholm.

Obviously, the new Norwegian Index record by 16.5 points is somewhat stunted due to Stockholm’s barely-believable fare. Even so, two of the other three Norwegian routes profiled this week are “insanely cheap” (less than $300 round trip).

I would guess that a $199 round trip is about as low as a transatlantic flight will go, and I would imagine that the route will be back to $250+ next week. However, I’ve been wrong before, so we shall see!

Note: All routes profiled are based on a 7-day round trip (departing and arriving the same day a week apart), unless otherwise noted. That said, I strongly encourage you to play with a variety of dates and trip lengths and see what you can find.

BOSTON

Boston – Copenhagen

Leave on:

  • April (2017) 4, 25 (return April 13, 2017 and May 4, 2017)
  • May 2, 2017 (return May 11, 2017)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $312

Thoughts: A $1 increase over last week doesn’t change that this is exceptionally cheap.

Boston – Lisbon

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 22, 23, 29, 30
  • February (2017) 5, 6

Carrier: TAP Portugal
Price: $480

Thoughts: $12 off last week!

Boston – Madrid

Leave on:

  • March (2017) 2, 6, 13, 16, 27, 29

Carrier: Iberia
Price: $381

Thoughts: March in Madrid is looking good.

Boston – Oslo

Leave on:

  • March 27, 2017 (return April 4, 2017)
  • April (2017) 3, 10, 24 (return April 11, 18, May 2)
  • May (2017) 1, 8 (return May 9, 16)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $291

Thoughts: Still a member of the sub-$300 club.

Boston – Zurich

Leave on:

  • April (2017) 8-11, 18, 19, 23-27, 29
  • May (2017) 1-4, 6-10

Carrier: Swiss Airlines
Price: $447

Thoughts: A good deal indeed.

NEW YORK

New York JFK – Barcelona

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 13 17, 19-24, 26-29, 31
  • February (2017) 2, 3, 5, 7, 9-12, 14, 20, 27
  • March (2017) 1, 2, 21, 29

Carrier: American Airlines
Price: $477

Thoughts: Spain seems to be the place to be.

Newark – Dublin

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 10, 11, 13, 16-18, 22-25, 27, 29
  • February (2017) 2, 3, 5-7, 9, 12-14, 20, 21, 24
  • March 7, 2017

Carrier: United Airlines
Price: $522

Thoughts: Luck of the Irish.

New York JFK – Milan

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 17, 18, 24, 25, 31
  • February (2017) 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28
  • March (2017) 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29
  • April (2017, 4, 25, 26
  • May (2017) 2, 3, 9, 10 $496

Carriers: Alitalia, Delta Air Lines, Emirates
Price: $496

Thoughts: $496 for Emirates? Yup.

New York JFK – Oslo

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 27, 29, 31
  • February (2017) 5, 7, 21
  • March 21, 2017

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $255

Thoughts: Pretty darn good.

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 23, 28
  • March 24, 2017

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $199

Thoughts: Not a misprint.

Cork Popped: NAX to pick from PSM and PVD as alternatives to BOS

Just days after Norwegian received DOT approval for flights between Boston Logan and Cork, Ireland, the carrier made a big announcement. Instead of flying out of Logan, it will fly its Boeing 737-800s out of either Portsmouth, NH or Providence, RI. Norwegian will continue to operate 787s between Boston and Copenhagen, London Gatwick, and Oslo.

The chosen location would be the carrier’s second base to open in the U.S., after the announcement that NAX would open a base at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, NY (SWF), around an hour north of New York City.

The Reasoning

Norwegian’s explanation for its decision is quite interesting, in my view. “To operate the Boeing 737s … from a primary airport [such as Boston] becomes much more expensive with a small aircraft type than a larger aircraft type due to limited passenger numbers,” Norwegian spokesman Anders Lindstrom said.

A Cost-Benefit Analysis

While both airports are approximately an hour from Boston, each has its own unique advantages.

Portsmouth’s advantages:

  • Pease has just one airline who operates scheduled service to the airport – Allegiant Air, a low-cost carrier whose focus is on domestic operations.
  • Less-congested city (approximately 30,000 people vs. 100,000)
  • Close to Interstate 95
  • Hourly bus service to Boston

Providence’s advantages:

  • It would appear that the catchment area for potential passengers is much larger than Pease
  • MBTA Commuter Rail service to Boston
  • Close to Interstate 95
  • Better potential for connections from other airlines
A Closer Look

There is some business sense in Norwegian’s decision. Certainly, there’s something to be said for lower operating costs, especially considering the airline’s low-cost model. Yet it remains to be seen if passengers are willing to travel an hour or more just to save a few bucks. This will be pertinent, particularly considering the extensive number of ancillary fees that Norwegian charges. Moreover, while negotiations have been going on for some time, it is a bit perplexing that Norwegian waited so long to make this declaration.

Of course, it could well be that these flights are a hit, and are the start of a big transformation. Who knows!

The Saga is Over: Norwegian gets approval for Boston-Cork flights

After what seemed like an eternity, Norwegian Air International has finally received USDOT approval to start flights between Boston and Cork, Ireland. Norwegian will fly Boeing 737-800 aircraft between the two cities. This aircraft is smaller than the 787s it currently flies between Boston and Copenhagen, London Gatwick, and Oslo.

The controversial decision – generally hailed within the European Union and condemned within the United States – brings the end of a three-year saga. During that time, Norwegian sought approval for the route, saw its application delayed, and threatened arbitration.

Reaction

Cork Airport officials are predictably ecstatic. As the second-largest city in Ireland, this will be a huge boon to residents and businesses in the area.

A subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle, Norwegian Air International was established in Ireland in 2014. This enable the carrier to utilize certain benefits that carriers based in the European Union receive. Particularly, NAI being in Ireland enables the carrier to utilize the “open skies” agreement. Until now, Norwegian has only been able to serve approved destinations. By establishing a headquarters within the E.U., Norwegian is able to increase the scope of its network.

The Other Side of the Pond

However, extensive U.S.-based opposition means that things have not gone so smoothly for NAI.  The main claim from a variety of U.S. aviation and government officials was that Norwegian has gained an unfair competitive advantage by underpaying pilots – who are allegedly employed under Asian contracts – and that its establishment in Ireland is simply a flag of convenience designed to get around labor laws.

Predictably, Norwegian denies these allegations. It says Norwegian operates under the labour laws of the country in which a crew lives. Moreover, Norwegian alleges that its expansion into U.S. airports is simply good for consumers. It believes U.S. competitors are afraid of the increased competition these Norwegian routes would bring.

Reflections

While I often profile Norweigan flights in Hump Day Fare Hacks and other parts of Speedbird Spotter, I believe that both sides have compelling points, so I can’t say whether this is “good” or “bad” for U.S. aviation. What I can say, though, is that it is certainly good for travelers who care about ticket price.