Norwegian (Air Shuttle) have been the only new airline to be granted slots at London Heathrow Airport for the forthcoming year’s schedule – the LHR 2020 Initial Co-Ordination Report.
The carrier has gained an unprecedented amount of slots, totalling 6, which is almost unheard of for a new carrier entering the Heathrow (IATA: LHR | ICAO: EGLL) market. The awarding of slots comes following success of the airline, despite it’s controversial move in ending long-haul routes between Scandinavia and the United Kingdom earlier this week, however speaking out, Senior Vice President Matthew Wood said:
Scandinavia is not large enough to maintain intercontinental flights from Oslo, Stockholm, and Copenhagen. [We have] had challenges with the Rolls Royce engines, meaning more aircraft on the ground.
So what exactly is a ‘slot’?
Aircraft landing and taking off times are considered as being limited time slots for airlines to operate their aircraft. Often, that delay we experience as passengers onboard aircraft, is due to a minor quirk in the turnaround of an aircraft, causing the aircraft to miss it’s window to takeoff within.
Slots are a place on an airport’s scheduling, granting an airline a time period from which to take off and land, but also all the necessary services (like refueling, baggage handling and catering services) that airlines require. Due to the fixed nature of airports, slots at major airports are often very competitive and as such are valuable to airlines.
How will Norwegian use these slots?
At present, Norwegian operates all their long-haul routes out of Oslo, Stockholm or Copenhagen (All in Scandanvia), however following these new slots, the carrier will be able to operate out of Mega-Hub airport, London Heathrow; London is a prime destination in its own right and, has hundreds of connecting destinations both via Heathrow, but also it’s 5 other London Airports (Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, City & Southend). On top of this, the carrier has also won an interline agreement with American carrier, JetBlue, further adding to it’s proposed utilisation of these new slots.
So what are your thoughts on this new slot development? Do you think it will signal British Airways & Virgin that low-cost long-haul flight is on the horizon? Or will the ‘big two’ fight back? Let us know in the comments!