Norwegian Air Shuttle seals deal for Gatwick runway slots
Norwegian Air Shuttle has snapped up a raft of take-off and landing slots at Gatwick Airport as it intensifies its push into the UK market.
The airline has sealed an undisclosed deal to buy 28 weekly slots from Small Planet Airlines, bolstering its presence at Britain's second busiest airport.
It is widely expected that the new slots will be used to support Norwegian's growing network of low-cost long-haul routes from the airport
The move comes just weeks after British Airways-owner IAG announced it had secured prized runway slots at Gatwick when they were put up for sale by the administrator of collapsed airline Monarch.
Thomas Ramdahl, Norwegian chief commercial officer, said: "London Gatwick is at the heart of our global growth ambitions so securing these crucial new slots will allow us to offer our passengers even more new routes, additional flights and affordable fares.
"Together with the launch of new routes to Argentina, Chicago and Austin in 2018, gaining extra capacity at London Gatwick is another huge boost as we get ready for our biggest ever year in the UK."
Norwegian, which carries 5.2 million UK passengers each year, already runs budget long-haul flights from Gatwick to nine US cities and Singapore.
IAG, which also owns Vueling and Aer Lingus, is stepping up its position in the low-cost long-haul market as it looks to fend off fierce competition from the likes of Norwegian.
A string of airlines had been linked with the runway slots since Monarch's collapse in September, with easyJet, Norwegian, Wizz Air and Jet2 all understood to have made inquiries.