Norwegian chief executive Bjorn Kjos is unperturbed by the entrance of new long-haul low-cost carriers into the transatlantic market.

The Oslo-based carrier does not see competition from Wow Air "very much" owing to their requisite stop in Iceland, and questions the aircraft choice of Primera Air, which began flying Airbus A321neos across the Atlantic in April.

"I don't know how they can make it," says Kjos in an interview with FlightGlobal referring to Primera's choice of aircraft for the market.

Primera, he says, is likely not operating aircraft at full capacity in order to operate its routes between both London Stansted and Paris Charles de Gaulle and Boston, Newark, Toronto and Washington Dulles.

The Latvian carrier operates 198-seat A321neos with a range of 3,996nm (7,400km) on the routes, the longest of which is 3,260nm from Paris to Toronto.

Norwegian has experience flying weight-restricted aircraft across the Atlantic. Following delays to its first Boeing 737 Max 8 deliveries in 2017, it briefly operated Boeing 737-800s limited to 150 passengers instead of their 189 seat capacity on flights to Hartford, Newburgh Stewart and Providence from Europe.

Primera chief commercial officer Anastasjia Visnakova said in August that the airline was "very, very happy" with the financial performance of the transatlantic routes to date. Beyond previously disclosed aircraft delivery delays, she did not mention any operational or capacity limitations with the A321neo.

Norwegian flies 189-seat 737-8s across the Atlantic, but on shorter routes of up to 2,804nm from Ireland and the UK, to Providence and Stewart airport near New York. The Max 8 has a range of 3,550nm.

Norwegian and Primera compete between both London and Paris, and Boston and New York, FlightGlobal schedules data shows. However, Norwegian operates Boeing 787s on all four routes.

After brushing off its low-cost competition, Kjos says Norwegian will focus on boosting frequencies instead of adding new markets in 2019.

"It's highly likely we'll put on some more frequencies, and we might also test some new destinations – we haven't decided yet," he says.

Norwegian finds that markets are more profitable as it adds frequencies, for example going from flights a few days a week to daily, says Kjos.

This has not stopped Norwegian from adding some new markets. Montreal and Tampa will join its network in October, and Hamilton, Ontario, in March 2019.

Source: Cirium Dashboard