LONDON — Norwegian’s impressive growth continues with the addition of new long-haul routes from its European bases.

The airline has unveiled its international winter 2018 schedule, which starts on October 28 and ends on March 31 next year.

The first new route announced as part of the winter’s network is a new flight from London-Gatwick (LGW) to the city of Tampa (TPA) in Florida. The flights will begin on October 31 this year on a twice per week service, with the carrier’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Flight DI7165 will depart LGW at 14:55 and arrive into TPA at 19:35 local on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The return, Flight DI7166 will depart TPA at 21:00 the same day and arrive into London-Gatwick at 09:55 the next morning.

The 787 that will operate the Tampa route will seat up to 344 passengers in its Economy and Premium Economy cabins.

Gatwick Becoming A Major Norwegian Hub

Thomas Ramdahl, Norwegian’s CCO, said that his airline “continues to offer customers increased choice, flexibility, and value throughout winter 2018 and we are pleased to welcome Tampa, Florida, as a new destination to our network.”

From London-Gatwick alone, Norwegian operates 13 long-haul routes. And from the Winter season onwards, 11 of those routes will be to the US when the TPA flight begins.

Norwegian opened the new route alongside Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate and Ms Tan Yen Nee, European Regional Director at Singapore Tourism Board. Picture from Norwegian.

Guy Stephenson, CFO at Gatwick Airport, said that the airline’s new flights “are appreciated by both our business and leisure passengers and are an important reason for Norwegian’s success at Gatwick.”

Recently, Norwegian has added new flights to Buenos Aires and Boston from the LGW base.

Route Additions/Changes From Gatwick

In addition to this new route, the airline will be adding the following flights to its winter network:

  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL) – We will see this route increase from three times per week up to a daily service.
  • Orlando (MCO) – We will see this route have an extra frequency added from three times per week to four times per week.
  • Buenos Aires (EZE) – Due to “excessive demand,” the carrier will convert this flight from a four times per week service to a daily service.
  • Las Vegas (LAS) – Following strong demand last Winter, the Las Vegas service will return on a three times per week service.
  • Boston (BOS) – Two additional frequencies will be added onto the Boston route, upgrading from a five times per week service to a Daily service respectively.

Other network changes to be noted are third daily service to New York (JFK), as well as the reduction of Chicago flights to four times per week from the airline’s current regular service.

Norwegian will also reduce its Oakland flights to three weekly from four weekly.

Lastly, the airline announced that flights to Austin (AUS) and Seattle (SEA) would also become seasonal.

Norwegian Under IAG/Lufthansa Watch

The UK is a crucial market for Norwegian, carrying 5.8 million passengers each year from London-Gatwick, Edinburgh, and Manchester to 50 destinations worldwide.

Out of the 5.8 million passengers carried, 4.6 million of them are from LGW alone.

The airline’s growth—and adjustment on some routes—shows that it has the required demand for sustainable growth.

The fact that its presence in London is growing in importance, it is more likely to see IAG placing a higher bid in the near future.

READ MORE: British Airways owner IAG purchases 4.61% of Norwegian Air; Considers takeover

The owners of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, and Vueling, might be the perfect fit for Norwegian’s future endeavors.

READ MORE: Lufthansa Considers Taking Over Norwegian

But should Norwegian’s financial conditions improve, the bidding war between IAG and the Lufthansa Group might intensify in the upcoming months.