Norwegian Air to fly Europe to Buenos Aires for US$300?!
We here at No Mas Coach are no fans of low cost airlines as a general rule, but let me tell you why there might be some fairly good reasons to choose to fly them.
Argentina is set to allow for low cost carriers to launch service in the country in the near future, once it finalizes lifting pricing restrictions it put in place in 2002. In February, the government removed rate regulations that capped the price of tickets and did not allow airlines to charge above a certain price.
That same regulation also limits the floor for ticket pricing, so airlines can’t charge anything below that limit, making it impossible for low cost carriers to set up any operation in the country. The current Minister of Tourism has expressed the intention to eliminate this minimum for airliners and in doing so, open the market to other competitors and improve the offering.
Enter Norwegian, who is eyeing Buenos Aires to expand their long haul low cost operation into the South American market, which is extremely under-tapped when it comes to low cost flights. Actually, flying to Argentina is extremely expensive whether one is departing from Europe or North America, and the new government has implemented other measures, such as removing reciprocity fees and implementing a VAT refund to further attract foreign tourists and increase foreign capital spend.
Why is this noteworthy?
Current routes from main cities in Europe into Buenos Aires go for no less than US$1,500 in coach, with premium cabin tickets going for no less than US$4,000. With the arrival of Norwegian, who could fly from Oslo, Paris, London, Madrid and Barcelona, passengers could go all the way across the pond for a mere US$300 round trip. That is, of course, a base fare and would not include premium seats, baggage allowance or any other additional perks that need to be paid for separately, but considering that most airlines’ economy products nowadays aren’t stellar, that price reduction will definitely make a difference.
According to Bloomberg’s interview with Kjos, the company’s CEO, Argentina is “a hidden jewel”, with “the largest potential I have ever seen” for increasing visits. “But to attract tourists you need to have cheaper flights.”
Norwegian could start operating these routes in under 12 months, once they obtain permits from the government, but they have not done any paperwork filing as of yet. I, for one, am glad that low cost carriers will be allowed to operate within the country, as it will force other airlines to improve on their -quite honestly- very sad service and in doing so, benefit passengers who will now be able to chose options according to their wants, needs and depths of their pockets.