OSLO, NORWAYThe new Nordic carrier makes its intentions clear.   Norse Atlantic Airways intends to focus on one thing only, offering budget flights from European cities – including Oslo, London, and Paris – to North American hubs.

Transatlantic routes are a lucrative market, and London to New York has historically been highly prized by airlines, proving popular with both leisure and business travelers.

Before the pandemic, flights to the US were the biggest profit engine for British Airways, whose other money-making routes had dwindled after years of battling competition from budget carriers on its European flights.

BA’s service from London’s Heathrow airport to New York’s JFK was revealed to be the world’s only billion-dollar route, according to travel data provider OAG, generating $1.15bn (£830m) of revenue for the carrier between April 2018 and March 2019.

Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of the almost 81 million passengers who traveled in 2019 through Heathrow, the UK’s busiest airport, were flying to or from North America.

It is not surprising that Norse would like to grab a piece of that pie, and it is not the only new arrival on the runway looking to bridge the Atlantic.

Low-cost airline JetBlue is also looking for a piece of the action, and is launching its new London-New York service on Wednesday, including some business class seats.

Air travel is beginning its recovery from the pandemic, following the easing of some international travel restrictions, which now allow fully vaccinated arrivals from the US and EU to skip quarantine in England.

While Norse said it is targeting families and younger travelers, it will offer premium and economy class onboard.

The arrival of these new contenders is likely to give UK carriers, including BA’s owner International Airlines Group (IAG) and Virgin Atlantic, pause for thought.

Norse insists it can succeed where others have failed, by concentrating only on offering discounted transatlantic flights.

“Our model is very different from any other model that has been tested, so it really hasn’t been proven yet or disproven,” said Norse’s chief executive Bjørn Tore Larsen.

“We are creating a low-cost long-haul airline only and we are very focused on that, we have a very lean operation, and we know that by historic revenues we can make decent profits based on the cost base we have”.

In fact, Norse is not the first airline to look to attempt to make short-haul budget flights, popularised by EasyJet and Ryanair, work over longer distances.

Norse’s own founders have tried it before. The airline has been created by some of the Scandinavian aviation veterans who were behind Norwegian, the airline which pioneered low-cost transatlantic flights, but ended up filing for protection from creditors last year. It will even use the same Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft previously leased by Norwegian, before it ended its long-haul model following near-collapse during the pandemic.

Norse insists that demand for travel is bouncing back as coronavirus restrictions are eased, while three-quarters of people want to travel to see friends and family as soon as possible, according to figures released by airline trade body International Air Transport Association.

However, business travelers generate the majority of revenue for airlines, and flights taken for business purposes are expected to return more slowly than leisure travel.

British Airways’ owner IAG said recently it aimed to fully reopen its transatlantic services in September.

Making budget long-haul work depends on keep costs low and attracting a range of passengers, not just those who will seize the cheapest fares, said Chris Tarry, an aviation analyst.

“The lowest cost in any given market will always win, but it has to be appropriate for the market or passenger mix you are targeting. The mix of traffic is very important on long-haul. What was important for Norwegian was premium traffic, but they didn’t have enough premium seats on their airplanes”.

After 18 months without international travel, many people are keen to take to the skies again. On the horizon, other issues are expected to play a role in determining the success of these new transatlantic services, including whether consumers who are concerned about the climate crisis try to cut their emissions by flying less.