Low-cost long-haul airline Norse Atlantic will establish its first flight attendant base in Florida rather than in its home base of Oslo, Norway as it reads plans to open ticket sales by the end of March.
The first pilots base will remain in Oslo and training has already got underway ahead of the airline’s launch. Flight attendant training is set to follow shortly and Norse has agreed to hire at least 700 US-based flight attendants following a deal with the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA).
Last month, Norse reached a “significant milestone” when the US Department of Transportation granted the upstart airline a foreign operators certificate.
Sara Nelson, president of the powerful flight attendants union, applauded the Biden administration’s decision to grant Norse a permit to operate long-haul flights to and from the United States.
Unlike the similarly-named Norwegian Airlines, which pulled out of the transatlantic market during the pandemic, Norse will hire staff directly into union jobs. Norwegian preferred to use a cheap third-party recruitment agency and initially rejected unionization, drawing the ire of Nelson and other aviation union leaders.
Bizarrely, Norse Atlantic is the brainchild of Bjørn Tore Larsen, the boss of the recruitment agency that Norwegian used. The co-founder of Norwegian, Bjørn Kjos is also on the Norse Atlantic board.
And that’s not the only similarity with Norwegian. The new airline is using Boeing 787 Dreamliners that were previously owned by Norwegian and plans to fly similar routes from secondary US airports like New York Stewart, Ontario (California), and Fort Lauderdale.
Larsen, however, insists that nothing has yet been finalized.
“Future customers and supporters on both sides of the Atlantic are reaching out to us every day asking about when they can start buying tickets, when we will be airborne and not least what routes we will be offering,” Larsen said on Friday.
“We are thrilled about the interest in the market and can confirm that our goal is to launch ticket sales by the end of March and our first flight to take off in the second quarter.”
“We are working on finalizing our route network and look forward to announcing our destinations when we open for sale,” he added.
Norse Atlantic says it received 3,000 applications for just 50 pilot positions in Oslo, and the airline is currently in the process of building up its workforce to 400 employees. Up until this point, the airline has been created a skeleton staff.
Along with the flight attendant base in Florida, Norse also plans to open crew bases in the UK and possibly France, although those plans haven’t yet been finalized.
Collective bargaining agreements with pilot and cabin crew unions in Norway and the UK have, however, already been signed.
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