Norwegian UK passenger numbers near 6m for 2017 as rapid growth shows no sign of slowing

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The airline launched more than 15 routes last year (Source: Norwegian)

Scandinavian low-cost carrier Norwegian said today it flew 5.8m passengers from the UK and Ireland last year, marking a rise of 1.3m, or more than a quarter, on the year before's total.

It also launched over 15 routes last year, and its rapid growth is showing no sign of stopping: the airline will launch new long-haul routes this year, including its first to South America.

On 14 February, Norwegian will launch a direct service from London Gatwick to Buenos Aires from £299 one way. Chicago and Austin are also being added to its batch of long-haul destinations from Gatwick in the spring, and the number of flights on other US routes are being increased.

Read more: Travel boom: EasyJet, Wizz Air and Norwegian all increase passenger numbers

Last month Norwegian said it had picked up an extra 28 weekly slots at London Gatwick, and will utilise the take-off and landing slots purchased from Small Planet Airlines from this summer. It currently flies to over 30 destinations from the London airport. 

The airline has sought to reassure investors over its rapid expansion and potential growing pains, saying last October it expects to cut its unit costs this year. 

Amid a tough competitive environment, Norwegian has also unveiled plans to improve the experience for passengers, with an expanded premium cabin offering more legroom. The cabin is being fitted on Norwegian's final 20 787 Boeing Dreamliner orders which are being delivered from February onwards. 

It is also rolling out onboard wifi on 11 new aircraft joining its fleet this year for long-haul routes from Gatwick.

Thomas Ramdahl, chief commercial officer at Norwegian said:

This year will see us fly to new heights as the UK will continue to be centre stage for our international growth.

We want to fly people further for the best possible value which is why we’re investing for the future in low-cost long-haul travel. We’re upgrading the long-haul passenger experience by introducing a bigger premium cabin, in-flight wifi and more brand-new aircraft to service our expanding network. 

Read more: Norwegian has landed a fresh batch of London Gatwick slots

Tags: Airlines