Norweigan Air's new Belfast-US route sells 2,000 tickets in 24 hours
NORWEGIAN Air’s new cut-price transatlantic flights from Belfast have taken off in style – selling more than 2,000 tickets in less than 24 hours.
The industry newcomer announced two new direct routes from Belfast International Airport on Thursday, including three weekly flights to Stewart International Airport in New York State and two weekly to T.F Green Airport near Boston.
And the company also announced it would be expanding the number of transatlantic flights from Dublin Airport as well as several UK locations.
In total, more than 14,000 UK and Ireland transatlantic tickets have been sold since the announcement.
The new US routes are also set to be the cheapest the north has ever seen, with prices for both flights from Belfast starting at £69 one way, although tickets at this price were quickly snapped up.
As opposed to flying to Boston and New York's larger airports, Logan International and JFK respectively, Norwegian Air has chosen smaller landing strips in order to keep costs to a minimum.
This significant cost saving (transatlantic flights would typically cost several hundred pounds) is because these areas carry much lower landing charges than their larger counterparts.
A spokesperson for Norwegian Air said they were "taken aback" by the popularity.
"With low-cost fares and crucial new transatlantic links for Belfast we always expected huge demand, but the response has been enormous with flights continuing to sell fast," the company said.
Belfast International Airport’s business development manager Uel Hoey was equally impressed.
"No sooner had seats gone on sale, Norwegian was inundated. Demand was immense. Two thousand sales in less than 24 hours tells its own story," he told the Irish News.
"People want value for money, so the opportunity to once again fly to New York or, for the first time, visit Boston and explore New England, proved irresistible. We’re clearly delighted with the up-take."
Thursday's announcement came just six weeks after the north's only direct US route, run by United Airlines, was stopped.
Aside from being much cheaper than the previous US route, the new Norweigan flights are set to be more frequent and capable of carrying more passengers.
The transatlantic routes will be operated on the new 200-capacity Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, for which Norweigan Air is the European launch customer.
This has also contributed to the cost savings, as the new aircraft can carry more passengers than older models and is more fuel efficient.