Norwegian would consider opening long-haul routes from Asia to London Gatwick airport to feed traffic onto its planned transatlantic operations if the UK airport can secure approval to build a second runway.
Bjorn Kjos, chief executive of the low-cost carrier, says Gatwick could be used as a mini hub for long-haul Asian routes connecting to its services to New York, Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles which begin this summer.
“Gatwick is ideal for long-haul, low-cost operations because there are so many low-cost carriers in Gatwick; Ryanair, EasyJet and Norwegian, people can self-connect so its ideal for a low-cost operation. Its not like Heathrow you don’t find any low cost operators there,” he tells Flightglobal at the sidelines of the RunwaysUK conference in London.
But Kjos warns that this can only happen if Gatwick is allowed to build a new runway as the current one is at almost full capacity and much of the demand from emerging economics Asia will come from those wishing to fly long-haul, low-cost.
“I think it [preventing Gatwick’s expansion] will really have an impact on everybody. What we fear will be the big impact on London is especially impact on passengers coming from the Far East, actually you are talking about such a high number of passengers you need more than one airport to take care of those passengers,” he says.
Both Gatwick and Heathrow have been shortlisted as candidates for a new runway by the UK government-appointed Airport Commission to deal with the lack of capacity around London, but it is expected that only one will be given permission to grow.
Kjos says both airports should be allowed to expand.
“Six times as many people living in the Far East as they do in the West, China and India are growing and as the global economy starts to even out we will reach a point where they will have the chance to fly, you already have 100 million people today flying out of China on vacation for instance.”