United Airlines Returns to Bergen

A United Airlines 757 on the taxiway.
Photo: RHL Images from England, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – United Airlines is prepping itself for its return to Bergen, Norway, as the carrier continues to relaunch its long-haul transatlantic post-COVID route network.

Transatlantic Recovery Strategy

As part of a transatlantic strategy, Bergen, home to Norway’s second-largest airport, has been chosen by United Airlines.  Bergen Airport welcomes this move as crucial to a post-covid recovery and restoring confidence in air travel once again.

Avinor’s Vice President of Traffic Development, Gaute Riise, is upbeat about launching the route and how it will positively impact Bergen Airport: “Our focus is on rebuilding a sustainable route portfolio for our airports. The world is at an underlying stage with geopolitical turmoil and a pandemic that restricts some markets. But the market for inbound tourism is expected to be strong [helped] by Norway having no COVID restrictions.” 

This move is considered very ambitious as this will be the relaunch of United Airlines in Norway. The Star-Alliance carrier previously operated the Newark-Oslo route but halted in September 2016. 

As COVID restriction eases, this has fuelled demand from both ends in the U.S and Norway. The airline will fly to Bergen Flesland Airport three times a week, which will be a seasonal summer route, which will run for 19 weeks. The flight will leave Newark Liberty International Airport every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The route will be flown by the 757-200.

Demand for Travel From Norway Continues To Rise

Demand for both ends in the U.S and Norway will always continue to exist, as the two ends have strong economic relationships.  Approximately 11 million Americans are of Scandinavian ancestry, which is approximately 3.3% of the entire population today. This should create demand for ‘visiting-friends and family traffic’ and business travellers between Newark and Bergen alone. Moreover,  Bergen is also a popular destination for tourists, with its status of being the gateway to the Norwegian fjords and the UNESCO World Heritage Bryggen. 

Moreover, millions of Norwegian are living within a convenient commute from the airport’s catchment area. This will certainly generate sufficient demand for the flight, as Norwegians have a high propensity to travel. 

This is an ambitious move from United Airlines as this Newark to Bergen route is one of the newly announced ten transatlantic routes. The other routes include Washington Dulles to Amman in Jordan, Newark to the Azores, Newark to Mallorca in the Balearic Islands, and Newark to Tenerife in the Canary Islands, to name a few. These new routes seem to be tailored for the holiday market, including Bergen. 

United’s senior vice president of international network and alliances, Patrick Quayle stated that: “We want to return to travel being fun.” This signals that the holiday market is recovering faster than business travel. 

The route opening will also benefit Star Alliance members. SAS also has a large presence at Bergen Airport, which means onward travellers can connect to other Scandinavian destinations seamlessly. 

The Newark to Bergen route is a niche market, catering to holiday demand. This gives United an upper hand in exclusively shuttling American passengers to Bergen, increasing its Scandinavian market share.

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