Figures that were released by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey show that low-cost carrier Norwegian has beaten British Airways in the coveted London-New York route.
In the last 12 months, Norwegian carried 1.67 million passengers between London and New York area airports.
British Airways, on the other hand, came short at 1.63 million passengers, estimating a 40,000 passenger difference.
But in reality, the vast majority of these passengers come from Norwegian’s New York-Stewart Airport operation, so Norwegian isn’t really beating British Airways.
Stewart Airport is located roughly 60 miles north of Manhattan. Calling it a New York area airport would be unfair to La Guardia, JFK and Newark.
But Norwegian likes to push this headline because of its failed involvement with IAG. The LCC received two offers from IAG, both of which were rejected, which came from a development in the 4.6% stake the conglomerate has in Norwegian.
British Airways keeps up just about because it operates to New York nearly 70 times per week from all three London airports.
Another reason would be, in the carrier’s words, is the other products that BA have on offer, such as its newest “$65 million investment on new lounges, improved food, seating and shops at JFK’s Terminal 7.”
Rather than basing this battle just on passenger numbers alone, we need to look at other elements.
For example, British Airways makes over $1 billion in revenue from London operations to New York.
Norwegian on the other hand, although they are the largest non-US airline serving New York, its revenues will not be as significant to the likes of British Airways.
Figures from July 2017 showed that the carrier only handled 750,000 passengers, before the massive spike in numbers.
The route has weighed on its finances and faces pressure to control costs, especially after the ordeal the airline faced with the delayed HiFly Airbus A380 operations.
The carrier is adding a thrice-daily service to JFK from October 28, but in the scheme of things, British Airways trumps Norwegian in operations by a difference of around 50 weekly flights.
That being said, consumer demand is aimed more towards the low-cost product, which is why we could see more focus from the likes of LEVEL in New York over the next few years.
For now in terms of passenger numbers, British Airways is struggling and is starting to distance themselves in the leaderboard against the likes of Norwegian.
However, British Airways will always have the upper hand in revenues and the products on offer.
It still seems that even with the difference of 40,000 passengers, there is still demand for premium pricing. Just about.