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The Former Journey Advisor Who Launched an Airline

Bjorn Tore Larsen purchased a journey company when he was simply 18 years outdated and developed what was an early model of a distinct segment market. And in 2021, the Norwegian entrepreneur launched a transatlantic low-cost airline, Norse Atlantic Airways.

In doing so he turned one of many few folks ever to go from being a journey advisor to an airline CEO – although there was an attention-grabbing path in between.


After leaving faculty at 16, Larsen went to sea the place he discovered, he mentioned, that the crews knew greater than the corporate’s house owners about delivery. He saved to that lesson all of his life. At 18, he purchased a journey company close to Oslo and shortly developed a specialty in maritime crews as a result of, naturally, they traveled constantly to completely different ports. The company quickly had a big share of that market.

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At across the similar time, Larsen began a delivery firm and he has been in that enterprise ever since, very efficiently so with 1000’s of staff globally. He offered the journey company in 1993 and just about stayed out of the journey business for nearly 30 years.

In 2021, with the demise of Norwegian Air’s transatlantic service (the provider nonetheless flies in Europe), he once more noticed a possibility. The airline needed to floor 15 new Boeing Dreamliner plane, making them out there for a low value. With no airline expertise, Larsen, together with some airline veterans together with some from Norwegian Air, purchased the planes and launched Norse Atlantic, with Larsen as the bulk proprietor.

In 2022, the provider launched its first route from Oslo to New York. Since then, it has continued so as to add gateways in Europe and North America, most lately including Paris to New York.

Present routes embrace New York (JFK) to Oslo, Paris and London; and Oslo to Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles. Coming over the following few months are London to Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston; and Rome to New York. All flights are on sale now.

Larsen is regularly requested why he would possibly succeed the place different low-cost, transatlantic carriers haven’t and he says the key is in a easy enterprise mannequin – solely nonstop long-haul flights and concentrating for now on North America and Europe.

As well as, there’s a robust give attention to prices. Based on Larsen, most airline bills are round logistics and overhead and he’s protecting these to a minimal. Because of this, he can supply fares, he mentioned, half that of rivals whereas paying aggressive wages to his staff (Paris-New York flights begin at $289 a method).

Bjorn Tore Larsen, founder and CEO, Norse Atlantic Airways
Bjorn Tore Larsen, founder and CEO, Norse Atlantic Airways. (picture courtesy of Norse Atlantic Airways)

And it’s these staff, along with the low fares, which are making the distinction. As he did with crews when he started his delivery firm, Larsen mentioned he listens to his flight attendants and pilots to find out which solution to go in delivering service. “It’s not the planes,” he mentioned, “it’s the folks.” Whereas there’s nothing particularly Norwegian concerning the service, mentioned Larsen, the airplane’s livery is influenced by that heritage, together with Viking graphics on plane tails.

Whereas the airline will principally be leisure-oriented, Larsen mentioned it’s a nice different for enterprise vacationers as a result of they recognize the worth. He mentioned he’s getting enterprise from journey advisors, particularly within the group house the place, he mentioned, “we make it engaging for teams to journey with us.” Whereas the planes do have 56 premium seats out of a complete of 338, there are not any ultra-luxury choices as a result of, mentioned Larsen, “you don’t want a lie-flat mattress to fly from London to New York.”

Wanting forward, Larsen mentioned Norse Atlantic will fly “the place and when folks wish to go,” together with Asia and the Caribbean with seasonal service relying in the marketplace. Whereas he has leased 5 of his 15 planes to a different airline, he’ll get them again in time for extra routes in 2024.

Though there isn’t a loyalty program but, Larsen is wanting into creating one if it may be made worthwhile. The airline has digital interline agreements with Spirit Airways, easyJet and Norwegian Air, which supplies over 600 weekly connections between European and U.S. hubs.

Requested what it has been wish to run an airline, Larsen, himself a pilot, smiled and mentioned, “I’m dwelling the dream.”

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