Norwegian makes move on Asia’s cost-conscious corporates

Low-cost carrier Norwegian made its move into the Asian market when they hosted a networking session to reach out to travel agents in Singapore last week.

A segment the airline hopes to reel in is corporate flyers who have a limited budget for their trips, said Lars Sande, the company’s senior vice president sales & distribution, Norge.

Sande addressing agents in Singapore in a bid to increase the airline’s visibility

The event is the first of Norwegian’s outreach efforts in Asia, where Sande remarked that there is little to no awareness of Norwegian as an international airline.

Only 25 to 30 per cent of the carrier’s routes serve Norway domestically, clarified Sande.

In October this year, the airline launched a direct connection between Singapore’s Changi Airport and London’s Gatwick Airport, making it the world’s longest low-cost flight.

He also shared that the carrier is hoping to expand its connections between Singapore and Scandinavia and European cities such as Barcelona and Rome, and may increase its four-times-weekly Singapore-London service to daily.

Sande asserted that Norwegian is not poaching business from frequent flyers of legacy airlines, but are instead focusing on travellers who are looking for quality at a more affordable price point.

The airline “controls” its costs by investing in channels such as selective crew distribution, limited branding and advertising, as well as newer and more fuel-efficient aircraft, explained Sande.

Its longhaul routes are served by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet and shorthaul flights by the 737 fleet, of which 90 to 95 per cent is fitted with complimentary Wi-Fi. The airline is looking to install Wi-Fi on the rest of its fleet in the coming months.

Norwegian’s entry has piqued corporate agent interest, but some told TTGmice that they are unsure about local interest and product specifics.

Yi-Leen von Rueden, sales manager of Global Travel, said: “We thought a Scandinavian airline would be expensive, and never expected it to be a low-cost carrier; so it’s a good option.”

However, von Rueden finds that although her company sells both full- and low-cost carriers, her corporate clients often choose to fly on commercial airlines especially when it’s on the company dime.

Voyager Travel’s general manager Jenny Ng agreed, commenting that Norwegian’s longhaul flights may be hard to sell when full-cost airlines such as British Airways, KLM and Finnair often roll out competitively priced fares for an all-inclusive service.

Ng concluded that more information and communication with Norwegian will be crucial in order to for agents to sell the airline.

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