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Budget airline launches London to New York flight for £150

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Budget airline Norwegian has sent the travel market spinning this week with the launch of a new London to New York route from just £150 one-way.

Norwegian, the third largest low-cost airline in Europe after Ryanair and easyJet, is likely to attract scores of new customers with its enticing cut-price flights between Gatwick and the Big Apple.

It is already second largest airline in Scandinavia, with 4500 employees and flights to 126 destinations in Europe, North Africa, the Middle Eas and Thailand - plus Oslo-US routes (including New York, Florida, Los Angeles and San Francisco).

Its new route means shoppers, sightseers and those who fancy a Broadway show or a cocktail or two a la Carrie Bradshaw will be able to pick up a flight to New York at a massively discounted price.

Norwegian air is the first budget airline in recent years to launch a transatlantic service from London

Norwegian says its prices start at £150 one-way but inevitably this means for out-of-season travel. However, it's still relatively cheap, with flights in September on Norwegian between London and New York priced at £420 return, compared to £670 for British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Air France. In October, that price falls to £330 return.

It's understood that technical developments behind the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in the past few years have made the possibility of a cut-price transatlantic flight a serious proposition.

Laker Airways tried the same thing 30 years ago and failed to make it work. But, along with the developments at Boeing, Norwegian is already successfully operating budget flights between Oslo and America - suggesting it will also be able to carry off this latest launch.

Other budget airlines have mooted the idea of transatlantic flights too over the past few years and are likely to be watching this move by Norwegian closely, amid rumours of a potential price war as low-cost companies race to open up flights to the U.S.

The delights of New York are one step closer to UK travellers, thanks to Norwegian's new route

"Norwegian’s decision to operate high quality services on new long range aircraft offering good-value fares to the US from London Gatwick is a significant industry game-changer," Stewart Wingate, the chief executive of Gatwick, told the Mail.

"It points to a future in which more and more long haul routes will be served by Gatwick. This is an important industry development that I am sure the Airports Commission will want to look at closely when considering the future shape of aviation.

"There's great demand for high quality flights at a low fare between the UK and the U.S., particularly to and from London Gatwick, where no other airline currently offers these routes."

A spokesman for Norwegian's competitor Ryanair told The Times: "Ryanair is always interested in new routes. However, transatlantic flights are still some years away due to the lack of availability of long-haul aircraft."

It's not clear yet how far Norwegian plan to expand its transatlantic service from Gatwick but if its New York route is popular, it could open up budget routes to the U.S. West Coast, with destinations such as LA and San Francisco as well.

Watch this space, jet-setters.

Words: Anna Brech, Photos: Norwegian/Twitter and Rex Features

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