Budget carriers are now in for the long haul

Norwegian looking at adding more routes to Asia from London

LCCs have revolutionised the regional aviation landscape in the last two decades, and now industry experts are expecting the arrival of budget airlines on longhaul routes to shake up the Asian skies too.

The emergence of longhaul LCCs has been sparked by the entry of the “game-changer” Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, which enables airlines to fly farther at 40 per cent less trip cost compared to previous narrow-bodies, said Patrick Murphy, executive advisor, Peach Aviation, speaking at Aviation Festival Asia yesterday.

Norwegian looking at adding more routes to Asia from London

The aircraft is currently part of a number of low-cost fleets, including Malindo Air and Norwegian.

Norwegian’s CEO Bjorn Kjos stated earlier this month that the airline is eyeing future expansion from London to other parts of Asia, pending access to the Siberian Corridor. The airline’s Singapore-London route commenced last September and is currently operated on a 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.

Con Korfiatis, CEO, flyadeal, observed: “Most of the longhaul demand is coming out of South-east Asia, where people are lapping it up.”

For example, Cebu Pacific’s Manila-Sydney route has doubled in passenger take-up since its launch in 2014, and was “profitable within a year”, shared the airline’s chief operations advisor Rick Howell.

He added that Cebu Pacific will welcome a new fleet of Airbus A321ceo within the next few weeks, when it will be able to take on more passengers per flight.

Korfiatis speculated that as longhaul LCC connections reach critical mass, airlines may start looking out for “selected markets” for their new routes, and added that flyadeal is evaluating “greenfield markets that nobody is flying to yet”.


Update [February 28; 19.03]: The article misstated that Norwegian operates the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft on its Singapore-London route. It should be the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

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