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Scandinavia has become one of Broward’s largest foreign tourist markets, thanks to new air service between Fort Lauderdale and Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.
Since the Norwegian Air Shuttle flights started at the end of November, the service has brought about 1,500 visitors a week to the area, said Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau president Nicki Grossman.
While the region has long had chartered flights from Europe, Grossman said the twice-weekly flights to and from Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen are “the kind of dependable long-term service that we’re very excited about.”
“This is as good as it gets for a South Florida destination to bring new service from a market like the Scandinavian market,” she said.
The airline will add two weekly flights to London Gatwick Airport in July.
Norwegian Air Shuttle CEO Bjorn Kjos said Tuesday after a luncheon and presentation in Broward that flights have been full since they launched.
The low-cost airline uses Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which have proven problematic for carriers around the world, but Kjos said the performance has gotten “better and better.”
“It’s a wonderful aircraft and hopefully it will have much higher regularity in the future,” he said. “We have seen it gradually improving.”
Kjos said the airline is interested in expanding to additional destinations in the United States in 2015 and 2016.
A story that ran this week in CQ Roll Call said U.S. air carriers are protesting Norwegian’s expansion plans, arguing that its use of lower-paid Thai flight attendants on international flights gives the airline an unfair competitive advantage.
But Kjos said the airline also hires American crew and pilots from large airlines.
“I guess nobody likes competition — except the passengers should love it,” Kjos said.