Norwegian sees a transatlantic opportunity for its Airbus A321LRs when they begin arriving in 2019, says chief commercial officer Thomas Ramdahl.
The 4,000nm (7,408km) range of the A321LR will allow the Oslo-based carrier to open new routes between the European continent and the USA that are not within the range of the Boeing 737 Max 8, he says in an interview with FlightGlobal.
"You will see more A321LR routes coming in to medium-size airports in the USA, connecting to different capitals in Europe," says Ramdahl, adding that Berlin, Brussels, Budapest and Prague are possible European gateways.
None of the four European capitals he mentions are gateways for Norwegian's transatlantic network today.
Washington DC is one US market that the airline is considering for the A321LR. Ramdahl says service to either Baltimore/Washington, which Norwegian dropped in early 2017, or Washington Dulles needs frequency that they are unable to provide with the Boeing 787, and is just too far for the 737-8.
"We will be looking at the Washington area… I think it will be a A321LR destination," he says.
Norwegian has firm orders for 30 A321LRs with its first eight due in 2019, Flight Fleets Analzyer shows. It also has orders for 58 A320neos.
The A321LR made its maiden flight on 31 January, with Airbus planning just a 100h certification programme for the long-range variant of the A321neo.
Multiple airlines are looking to the A321LR for their transatlantic networks. In addition to Norwegian, Aer Lingus, Air Transat and Primera Air have committed to the aircraft for the market.
Norwegian launched narrowbody transatlantic service with the 737 in June 2017. First with the 737-800 but shortly thereafter replaced by its new 737-8 aircraft.
"The Max works great from Ireland and the UK," says Ramdahl on this service. However, its 3,515nm range limits the ability of the 737 Max to expand deeper into Europe.
Norwegian flies the 737-8 to Newburgh Stewart and Providence from Belfast, Bergen, Cork, Dublin, Edinburgh and Shannon in Europe, FlightGlobal schedules show. It will end service to Hartford from Edinburgh in March, citing the UK's passenger taxes.