Norwegian Air headed to R.I. instead of to Seacoast's PeaseBy MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader
February 07. 2017 11:30AM
Low-budget airline Norwegian Air will not be landing at Pease International Airport in Portsmouth.
But the airline’s decision to choose a Rhode Island airport “might be a blessing in disguise,” according to David Mullen, executive director of the Pease Development Authority.
“If nothing else, this might give us a breather to make the improvements” that officials believe are needed at Pease, Mullen said.
He got word Tuesday that Norwegian had chosen T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, R.I., to operate a crew base and offer transatlantic flights.
“They could hit the ground running there,” Mullen said.
Norwegian last year said it would offer $69 introductory one-way fares to Ireland.
“All I can confirm at this stage is that Providence will be the second new pilot/cabin crew base for the upcoming 737 transatlantic service launching this summer,” said Anders Lindström, Norwegian’s director of Communications (USA).
“We will make an official announcement in the next few weeks, including routes/destinations, launch dates, fares, frequencies, etc.,” Lindström said in an email.
A spokesman at T.F. Green Airport referred inquiries to the airline.
Norwegian officials were talking about possible flights from Pease to Ireland, Scotland, England and Norway, Mullen said.
Allegiant Air operates 12 flights a week from Pease to four Florida cities.
Mullen said the airport received a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to study making improvements to the Seacoast airport.
“Just traffic from Allegiant justifies us going through the FAA process to talk about expansion,” Mullen said.
Norwegian’s interest is another reason “to do that study and get some plans on the drawing board,” he said. “We really need to improve capacity of the facility.”
The Pease airport also is used by the New Hampshire Air National Guard and has hosted more than 1,100 flights where Pease greeters welcome military personnel returning from or traveling to overseas assignments, Mullen said.
Norwegian said it is the world’s sixth-largest low-cost airline and carried 30 million passengers in 2016. The airline operates 450 routes to 150 destinations in Europe, North Africa, Middle East, Thailand, the Caribbean and the United States.
Norwegian has a fleet of 120 aircraft, with an average age of 3.6 years, making it one of the world’s youngest fleets, according to its website.