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14 Sep 2016

BY Pippa Jacks

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TRFBLI

Leader: Norwegian may yet bopmugger its competitors

In case you missed it, this Tuesday celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of Britain’s best-loved and most linguistically inventive writers – Roald Dahl.

Pippa Jacks Leader

Born to Norwegian parents, and holidaying in Norway as a child, the author of children’s classics The BFG, James and the Giant Peach and Matilda is now to be immortalised on the exterior of a Norwegian aircraft, as the airline’s latest “tail fin hero”.

It’s been fascinating to watch this low-cost carrier’s expansion in the last five or six years, placing the largest order of aircraft in European history in 2012, and launching a base at Gatwick in 2013.

With phizz-wizzingly low transatlantic fares like £169 each way to LA, and a fresh brand, it’s no wonder Norwegian is rapidly becoming a giant in the UK market, carrying four million UK passengers last year alone.

Agents speak positively of Norwegian’s simple, efficient, in-flight product – and its incredible prices – even if baggage and meals cost extra.

But as we reveal this week, the airline now has its eye on conquering the UK package market with its Oslo-based Norwegian Holidays arm, and has appointed a managing director to oversee its growth.

The company so far has no plans to work with the UK trade. And with almost unbeatable fares to key destinations like Orlando, New York and Vegas, as well as the Med, plus more than 850,000 hotels worldwide, agents could soon find themselves with a twitch-tickling problem on their hands in terms of price-matching.

Nor can agents rely on highlighting Norwegian Holidays’ lack of an Atol in order to deter their clients from booking direct: the Norwegian Package Travel Act and Travel Guarantee Fund would appear to offer international customers a robust level of financial protection. And the Norwegian authorities might, one suspects, be more efficient and accessible than their Spanish counterparts were after the recent collapse of Mallorca-based Lowcosttravelgroup.

All of which could, if Norwegian Holidays realizes its growth ambitions, leave splitzwiggled UK agents finding Norwegian to be less a Big Friendly Giant and more a Gizzardgulper.

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