Ryanair is likely to be the next low-cost carrier to launch transatlantic services, says Norwegian chief executive Bjorn Kjos.
However, the Irish budget carrier faces a lengthy delay before the required Airbus A350s or Boeing 787s become available, he adds.
“They are looking at a six- to seven-year waiting time to get one. If you haven’t been in the queue for them, you have a long wait,” said Kjos during the RunwaysUK conference in London on 16 January.
Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary has in the past stated his intent to launch long-haul services to the USA with fares from as low as €10 ($13.50) but noted he was hampered by a lack of availability of long-range aircraft at prices he would accept.
Norwegian began operating long-haul services in June 2013, launching services from Oslo and Stockholm to New York and Bangkok, and it has since expanded to other US destinations. It intends to begin services to the USA from London Gatwick later this year.
Kjos says the industry is on the cusp of new narrowbody long-haul route opportunities to be created by the introduction of the A320neo and the 737 Max.
“We see a step change in the long-haul business when the Max and Neo come in because you have so much more range with them than today. Routes such as Karachi-Stockholm become possible. Today, that would be with a widebody, but tomorrow it could be a narrowbody. So you see there will be a heap of change.”
Flightglobal's Ascend Online database shows Norwegian has orders for 100 737 Max aircraft and 100 A320neos. It holds 100 Max and 50 Neo options.
JetBlue Airways could also be a future long-haul operator, says Kjos.