Norwegian plans network expansion

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Oslo-based low-cost carrier Norwegian is preparing to expand its operations from its Stockholm and Warsaw bases, and is eyeing longer-distance routes following a recent firm order for 42 Boeing 737-800s.

Norwegian chief executive Bjorn Kjos says the 737-800s will enable the carrier to serve longer-distance routes, such as to North Africa. But he will not be drawn into detailing specific route plans. Norwegian in August placed a firm order with Boeing for 42 737-800s, and took purchase rights on a further 42 of the aircraft type. The order follows a previous lease agreement for 11 Boeing 737-800s.

The new aircraft will replace Norwegian's 22-strong fleet of 737-300s, as well as recently-acquired Swedish budget operator FlyNordic's fleet of Boeing MD-80s. The MD-80s will be phased out from next year. Norwegian will then concentrate on building up its network, particularly from two of its key hubs.

"The next phase will be to expand our operations from Stockholm and Warsaw," says Kjos. "We plan to strengthen our network in and out of Scandinavia and we already have a strong position in Norway, so we will concentrate on building our network in Sweden and from Warsaw."

Norwegian recently announced that its seventh base would be Rygge, 65km (40mi) south of Oslo. It will station two 737-800s at the airport and will serve 14 destinations. Kjos says the carrier is "looking at opening a base" in Copenhagen, a move he hopes will occur "as soon as deliveries of the new aircraft start".