Skift Take

Some legacy airlines are threatened by Norwegian, but most respect what CEO Bjorn Kjos is doing. They often say he's a worthy adversary.

In June, Norwegian Air will have new low-cost competition on several transatlantic routes. It’s called Level, and it’s an attempt by International Airlines Group — owner of British Airways and Iberia — to thwart some of Norwegian’s momentum.

But during an onstage interview at the inaugural Skift Forum Europe held in London in April, Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos said he does not fear the new entrant. Norwegian and Level will compete on a handful of routes, including Los Angeles and Oakland to Barcelona.

He said he expects Level — and other low cost, long haul entrants from Lufthansa Group and Air France-KLM — to spur demand for cheap flights.

“I hope some of them will make it because they are creating demand,” Kjos said at the Skift Forum. “There’s a new layer of people who will start flying who couldn’t afford to fly before.”

Still, Kjos predicted some competitors may fail, because it’s often difficult for a legacy airline to operate a low-cost brand. In the United States, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and US Airways all had discount sub-brands in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“Some airlines might succeed because they have very good leadership like [International Airlines Group CEO] Willie Walsh,” he said. “With others, you don’t get a low-cost airline by just painting the aircraft. A lot of carriers have tried that before. It’s not a formula for success.”

You can watch the full interview with Skift Editor-in-Chief Jason Clampet below.

Note: Initial planning is in full-swing for our flagship event Skift Global Forum, which will be held September 26-27 in New York City. We wanted to make sure our most loyal Skift readers were able to purchase their tickets early and were rewarded for doing so. That’s why we’ve re-opened up our previously sold out early bird discount for an additional 35 tickets. Attendees can now save $800 per ticket on the largest creative business conference in travel.

Read more coverage of Skift Forum Europe 2017.

At this year’s inaugural Skift Forum Europe in London, travel leaders from around the world gathered for a day of inspiration, information, and conversation on the future of travel.

Visit our Skift Global Forum site for more details about 2017 events, including our New York City event September 26-27.


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Tags: Bjorn Kjos, norwegian air, Skift Forum Europe - 2017

Photo credit: Norwegian Air CEO Bjorn Kjos speaks at Skift Forum Europe. He said he does not fear low-cost long-haul competition. Norwegian Air

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