The rumors are true. You can get from North America to Europe (or vice versa) for under $600 round trip! Or for $300, one way, including taxes.
This isn't some travel writer/blogger exclusive. Acclaimed as a new airline, Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA has been around for over 10 years, but recently gained publicity for re-structuring its corporate objectives. This business strategy enables them to provide the most affordable transatlantic flights... without compromising quality.
Free Wi-Fi. New, modern fleets. Frequent Flyer rewards. SMS tickets. Flexible tickets. A low airfare calendar. Centrally located airports. Direct flights. Direct to gate check in. Frequent departures. In-flight entertainment. Numerous additional options at a fair cost. And best of all: a campaign to reduce emission by 30 percent during the next year.
As if its features and pricing weren't enough to make you hop on a plane, norwegian.com is user friendly. It lists prices for flights to and from numerous cities on one platform. Sure, I'll save a few hundred dollars by choosing a destination that's more affordable. After all, my EuroBreak will be a win whether I fly into Copenhagen or Oslo.
What's the catch?
International economics meet national politics. Norwegian Shuttle has strategically moved their corporate headquarters to Ireland. They've also hired American and Thai pilots (at the fraction of the costs of those employed by Norwegian unions). They have (literally) moved business out of Norway. This makes for some angry Vikings.
CEO, Bjorn Kjos, doesn't seem to mind the uproar. "We don't give a s*** about that!" he told The Guardian.
Quite frankly, I agree with Mr. Kios. Here's why:
1. Should it really matter what nationality you are when you're employed by a company?
If Norway's population is approximately 5.8 million people with an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent, there are about 200,000 people unemployed in Norway. The U.S. population is approximately 300 million with a reported unemployment rate of 6.6 percent. That's almost 20 million Americans in need of a job. And 68 million people in Thailand with an unemployment rate of 7.2 percent makes for almost 5 million unemployed in Thailand. Hey, Norwegians, you're not doing too bad compared to the rest of the world.
In short, there are millions of people across nations that could use a career, and business without borders doesn't seem like such a spiteful idea. If a company is willing to employ people of another country (using fair practices), does it make them a villain? I once interviewed 19-year-old twins (Ukrainian born, German raised) and when I asked them how they identified themselves, they replied with "Why do I have to be German or Ukrainian, we put too much emphasis on nationality." Sociology is real, culture is real, the influence of employment on a nation is real, but shouldn't we be praising Mr Kjos for expanding his business and creating more jobs around the world, irrespective of their location? Will we ever stop competing as nations, and instead seek means to grow together?
Hats off to Mr. Kjos.
Norwegian Shuttle may no longer be an exclusively Norwegian company, but the Norway native is stimulating the global economy, and giving the gift of travel.
2. If flying overseas can be more affordable, and safer for our environment, it should be.
Americans are haunted by a stigma that we don't travel overseas -- at least not more than a one-time study abroad and the dream trip we take when we're retired. My generation has been actively challenging this convention despite limitations pressed by our careers and finances. While in other cultures, people take a gap year before or after college, or even as a year-long honeymoon, a frequent Gen-Y American traveler is an exception.
Traveling as a millennial with limited work seniority equates to restricted vacation time and lack of savings. Thank you university debt, unpaid internships, and the inflated cost of living in cities with the most competitive careers. Traveling is expensive. If a corporation can manage to make it easier for more people to travel, then they have my support.
Furthermore, the Norwegian Shuttle initiative to use more environmentally friendly aircrafts is a win-for-all. Well, a win-for-all except for competing airlines who don't want to fork up the costs to reduce emissions. Many budget airlines have attempted to provide economical trans continental flights, with little avail. Norweigian has one-upped them. Other companies aren't willing to compete with Norwegian's prices and the cost of environmental consciousness. The travel market is not happy with the competitive rates. But as any supply-demand equation will prove, travelers will do what they have to do to see the world. Finally, a business is on our side.
This post was originally featured on travelbreak.net.