Discount airlines to offer cheap trans-Atlantic flights from Schiphol
Discount airlines may soon offer cheap trans-Atlantic flights from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. Budget airline Norwegian plans to start offering long-haul flights from Schiphol by next year, CEO of the airline Bjorn Kjos confirmed to Luchtvaartnieuws.nl.
Which destinations Norwegian will offer from Schiphol is unclear at this stage, though plans are that both North- and South-America will be reachable. "There is a great demand for Amsterdam, particularly from the United States", Kjos said at the European aviation conference in Brussels on Wednesday, Up in the Sky reports. "It is therefore an interesting market for long-haul flihgts."
According to Financieele Dagblad, established airlines like Air France-KLM and Lufthansa are already overtaken by budget airlines like Ryanair, EasyJet and WizzAir on the European market. They are also facing stiff competition on routes to Asia from fast-growing airlines like Emirates and Turkish Airlines. A third of Air France's intercontinental routes are already done at a loss, for KLM it is a tenth.
There is also already a battle for the lucrative transatlantic market, according to the newspaper. Norwegian already has routes from European airports such as London, Paris and Oslo to the United States, including destinations such as Los Angeles and New York. And the Icelandic WOW Air and the French airline French Blue are also already flying to the States. And new developments like the rise of lighter and more fuel efficient aircraft with a longer flight range is making the emergence of intercontinental budget airlines more and more possible.
The increasing possibility of discount airlines settling at Schiphol and offering intercontinental flights, has the more expensive KLM worried, according to FD. The rise of intercontinental cost carriers may also entail an increase in the number of direct connections, which may put pressure on Schiphol as a transfer airport. And if KLM's destination network suffers, so will Schiphol's so-called connectivity.
But these plans don't pose a threat to the position of Schiphol airport or the KLM network as of yet, according to a study by the Netherlands institute for transport policy KiM, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment.
The fact that Schiphol is expected to reach its growth limit of 500 thousand flights this year, instead of in 2020 as expected, means that there is limited growth possibilities for newcomers, the report states, FD reports. There are plans for Lelystad Airport to bear some of Schiphol's load, but that will only happen in 2019 at the earliest. The researchers also expect that intercontinental budget airlines will initially focus on niche markets, which will have limited impact on KLM and Schiphol's position as aviation hub.