Belfast Telegraph

No-frills airline Norwegian on cusp of growing too quickly, admits boss

By Neil Lancefield

Low-cost airline Norwegian, which flies to two US airports from Belfast, is "on the cusp" of growing too fast, one of its bosses has admitted.

Dominic Tucker, head of sales in the UK and Ireland, said the carrier was increasing the size of its fleet by "a crazy number",

But he added the firm had a "strong cash flow" and was profitable.

Concerns have been raised about the future of Norwegian due to its policy of rapid expansion.

The airline, the route network of which includes London Gatwick, Belfast, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh, has around 130 aircraft and more than 260 on order.

In July, Norwegian began flying from Belfast International to TF Green Airport in Providence, Rhode Island, and Stewart International, which is around 70 miles from New York.

Norwegian serves more than 150 destinations across Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Thailand, the Caribbean and the US, with a policy of offering low fares based on the company's "lean organisation and fuel-efficient aircraft".

But Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary claimed in September that "Norwegian will go in four or five months" because it was "running out of cash".

Mr Tucker was questioned about the airline's growth strategy at the annual convention of travel trade organisation Abta in the Azores, Portugal.

Asked if Norwegian was growing too fast, he replied: "If I'm honest, we're probably on the cusp.

"It's really hard as an airline when we have lots of planes because we want to put those planes into service as soon as possible.

"You just have to get organised."

Mr Tucker accepted that taking delivery of 19 new aircraft this year was "a crazy number which we're managing to juggle".

He said the airline was "having to guess" where it should fly because it lacked the historical data of long-established rivals.

Belfast Telegraph

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