Norwegian has finally done something that could save its longer term future, and it fits entirely with JetBlue and its low cost Trans-Atlantic strategy.
By signing an interline agreement both airlines get access to the others routes – jetBlue in Europe and Norwegian across the US.
This is a very big deal for both of them. It’s in effect everything short of immunised joint venture, and puts them in direct and viable contention with the mega-carriers, establishing a los cost travel combine that stands a real chance of making inroads.
The benefits of being able to transport through passengers cannot be underestimated, it could add as much as 30% to overall bookings on flights for both airlines and the through-connections massively widens the appeal to budget conscious travellers on both sides of the Atlantic.
It also has to open up another prospect. The significance of the move, allowing both sides to sell the others fares, is deeply integrating for both airlines. jetBlue has a deep desire to begin trans-Atlantic operations itself. If Norwegian can give it quicker and more complete access sooner, jetBlue’s financial interest in Norwegian will grow, suggesting the possibility that a major stake – and jetBlue could afford the 49% of Norwegian it would be allowed to hold, might not be such a long way off.
That would stabilise Norwegian, make it subject to rigorous financial control from an established specialist airline, and cement a major new alliance across the Atlantic – one much needed to challenge the monopolising stranglehold of Skyteam and OneWorld to London, Amsterdam and Paris, and to a lesser extent, Star Alliance at Frankfurt.