Norwegian relies on government to use Siberia corridor for new routes
Oslo - Norway has so far been excluded from routes across Siberia. But now the new Norwegian government has decided to increase political pressure on Russian authorities to solve the long-standing problem.
Earlier this year, Norwegian, the largest airline in the country, announced that the company was shutting down six bases in Spain, Italy, and in the United States. The pilot bases in Florida, Bangkok, Fort Lauderdale, and Amsterdam are also being withdrawn while some routes are reduced in terms of frequencies. It is the part of a reconstruction and consolidation process after years of rapid growth, the company says.
Last week, International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of British Airways alongside, Iberia, Vueling, Aer Lingus, and Level, announced that it wouldn't bid for Norwegian. IAG's this decision has raised concerns about the airline’s ability to manage the current financial bottleneck that the company tries to overcome for a while.
Despite all these negative developments, the airline may have a chance to launch new profitable routes to destinations in Asia via the Siberia corridor.
Norwegian has pressed Russian authorities for many years to use the corridor over Siberia for new routes but has not been able to get a positive answer from Russian authorities so far.
With reference to old bilateral agreements, the shortcut to Asia over Russia has still been reserved for Scandinavian SAS. Access to the eastern routes has been repeatedly raised in conversations between Scandinavian and Russian authorities from time to time.
But now this issue has more political dignity. In the government statement presented by the new Norwegian admission, the all four political parties confirm that they will cooperate with Russia on overflying rights. So clearly, it has never been addressed in a government statement before.
If Norwegian finally gets permission to fly through the Sibirien corridor, it can compete with SAS and some Chinese airlines, which have opened several routes to Scandinavia. Most recently, Hainan Airlines opens its first direct route between Beijing and Oslo this spring.
So far, Oslo has been excluded from the routes to countries like China, Japan, and Korea even though there is a Scandinavian license for such traffic. Björn Kjos, the founder and the CEO of Norwegian, has many times pointed to the new long-haul routes from Stockholm and Oslo that have potential to offer new opportunities in the Far-East market for both Scandinavian and Norwegian.