LONDON – flyr, the newest entrant into Norway’s commercial airline sector, is due to launch operations soon, even in the wake of a global pandemic still decimating the industry.
AviationSource attended a press conference back in January where the airline outlined its plans to enter the industry, but also to discuss how it is going to make its success a reality.
This article will also explore the competitive potential behind the Norwegian aviation market, and whether it will be easy for the carrier to enter such a market.
What We Know So Far…
The press conference held in January by the carrier established the airline’s path towards launch, including what it intends to do going into the future. The carrier launched ticket operations back in April, with the intention of launching in June.
January had seen the airline already hiring staff in the most key positions, with significant interest in pilot and cabin crew opportunities.
There is still work to do as the airline is currently negotiating collective agreements with workers unions and is working on raising additional capital for operations too.
Such capital acquisition has already begun, with three investment groups facilitating a 600 million NOK equity capital raise already, giving the airline much needed funds to get things started.
Why is the airline going to succeed?
The airline believes it will do well, because as stated in its briefings, the “fleet size is adapted to the Norwegian market”, meaning the airline “is not dependent on expanding into less profitable, and/or secondary markets in the Nordic region”.
Rather than taking the approach of Norwegian Air, flyr’s organisation is to increase in line with business growth, offering clear objectives to “optimise the number of productive hours for pilots and cabin crew”.
Furthermore, another potential success out of this saga is that the airline’s total capital requirement is smaller than its domestic competitors, which brings together its offering of a “sharp focus on simplicity, robustness and digitalization”, offering “a new standard in the air industry going forward.
Finally, the carrier believes that the company is built more profitably, efficiently and with less risk by starting from scratch.
The Proposed Network Layout
The airline aims to launch its route network in three stages. This is also dependent on the number of Boeing 737-800s it will have in the fleet by then. flyr expects to have a maximum of 28-30 of the aircraft type by the time it gets to Phase 3.
Phase 1 will see the following routes from its base in Oslo Gardermoen:
Phase 2 will see a more considerable expansion into Europe as well as increasing the fleet from eight to 20 aircraft:
Finally, Phase 3 will see the full expansion up to 28-30 aircraft and again further increasing its range to different destinations across Europe and through the Domestic areas of Norway:
The 737-800s in question will seat between 186 to 189 people, but the airline hasn’t given any indication into class configuration at this stage. Considering its in a 186-189 passenger layout, it could speculatively look like one-class only. This would make sense given the drop in business demand due to the pandemic.
All aircraft are to be leased, but again, there is no indication in where the aircraft are coming from as of yet.
An Aim of Easier Flight
flyr is trying to bring a completely different model to the table, offering a simplified, flexible and customer-friendly experience when onboard.
The simple pricing for baggage as seen on the diagram doesn’t give any indication into the baggage allowances. Whilst no hard limits have been established at this point at the time of writing (January 2021), more information is still needed.
However, its flexibility will no doubt offer a level of attractiveness to the market, especially with the 24-hour cancellation period with a full refund, which is something that not many operators do.
Again, with unique loyalty concepts still a little vague at the time of writing, this has still got to be seen by the carrier.
Will this make competitors sweat? What about product?
The important question is whether flyr will have enough momentum to enter the market and place pressure on competitors such as Norwegian Air and Scandinavian Airlines, among others.
Domestically, yes. With a new entrant entering the domestic market, there will no doubt be a price war instigated as a result, in order to reduce SAS’ 30% market share as recorded by Statista for the 2018/19 period.
For the likes of Norwegian Air, this entrance couldn’t have come at a worse time. The airline is currently in the process of an examinership and restructuring, where it will be looking to thrive off the Domestic and European operations after axing its long-haul division completely.
With flyr looking to tap into the markets that Norwegian had previously served across Europe, this of course is brought back to the whole price war argument, where the fight for market share will make the industry sweat a little.
What about the well-established?
If flyr goes down the low-cost route, then it will hit competition with the likes of Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air. With Wizz Air expanding into the Norwegian market, that again may cause the airline problems.
However, as flyr states about customer loyalty programmes, if it is strong enough, it may be enough to fend off the passenger’s needs to go cheap with low-cost carriers.
What we do know is that whilst there may be some disadvantages to opening up an airline in the wake of a global pandemic, flyr may be the case study in effect that looks at success in very difficult times.