Bjørn Tore Larsen, the founder of the Norway-based crew management firm OSM Aviation, of which Norwegian (DY, Oslo Gardermoen) was formerly a co-owner, has announced a new low-cost carrier, Norse Atlantic Airways. It will enter the long-haul market between Europe and North America by the end of the year, and, in the long term, Asia, the start-up carrier has announced on its website.

Larsen has a 63% stake in the new venture through direct and indirect holdings, while Bjørn Kjos and Bjørn Kise, who pioneered low-cost transatlantic travel with Norwegian but ultimately failed to make it profitable, have contributed 15% and 12% of the capital, respectively.

Larsen is the chief executive of the new company. Espen Høiby, a former OSM Aviation chief executive and brother of Crown Princess of Norway Mette-Marit, will be operations director. James Lightbourn will be lifted from a career in the maritime sector to become chief financial officer.

Like fellow start-up Flyr (Oslo Gardermoen), Norse Atlantic Airways targets a listing on the Euronext Growth exchange in Oslo, intending to do so in April.

“The airline will offer routes that have already proved to be popular for leisure and business travellers alike, including destinations such as New York, Los Angeles Int'l, Miami, London, Paris, and Oslo. More routes and destinations will be offered in line with customer demand,” the website said, adding that the airline will operate B787 aircraft.

“Tickets are expected to be available for sale in autumn 2021, and the first flight is expected to take off in December 2021,” the site elaborated.

“We are confident that once the Covid vaccines have been roled out, people will want to start travelling again,” Larsen said in a video presentation on the site. “We now have a historic opportunity to build a new airline from scratch. When the world reopens, there will be a need for an innovative low-cost airline in the international market.”

The company’s private investors have subscribed to shares worth the equivalent of USD24 million. The brokerage Pareto Securities, investment bank Sparebank 1 Markets, and Nordic equity specialist Arctic Group will assist with the bourse listing.

In an interview, Larsen told the Norwegian daily Dagens Næringsliv that he and his colleagues had been negotiating with lessors to take on some of Norwegian’s recently dropped widebody aircraft.

“I have flown with these planes many times, and I think it will be fantastic to get them back,” he said. “I’ve thought for a long time that it is important to have a low-cost player across the Atlantic, and it was a bit on the cards that Norwegian should not continue. When Norwegian announced it wouldn’t, we all got together.”

The plan is to start with 12 aircraft, he added. For nine, a letter of intent has already been signed. The aircraft have been secured at “around half price,” he said.

“Norwegian was very unlucky with its planes. We have received assurances that the engines have been repaired and that Rolls-Royce has solved the technicalities,” Larsen continued.

Kjos told the same newspaper: “Norse Atlantic will be an independent company. It is the right time to start long-distance now.” He would also like to see collaboration between the new company and Norwegian: “We will definitely try to achieve that. The two companies have not had time to settle this, as Norwegian has been very busy with the reconstruction in Ireland, and Norse Atlantic with setting up. I believe that both companies can have great synergies.”