LONDON to New York has always been the most competitive of routes. Some of us remember the audacious attempt by Sir Freddie Laker to muscle in on this potential nice little earner, when in 1977 his ‘no frills’ operation began ferrying passengers back and forth from London Gatwick to New York’s JFK.
It was fine while it lasted, but then the early 1980s recession created the sort of turbulence that led to Laker Airways’ bankruptcy — and its last flight took off on February 5, 1982.
Now, more than 40 years later, Norse Atlantic is entering the fray, offering to undercut British Airways and Virgin Atlantic — in what is another audacious leap of faith given that Norwegian Air tried this in 2014, but packed it in seven years later.
Fly out with Norse Atlantic on April 10 and return on April 15 and it will cost you £554, compared with £1,875 with BA. That’s a big difference. And what must worry BA is the decline in the business class market now that companies can achieve so much via Zoom and other platforms.
There’s something else to factor in for all transatlantic carriers: New York City, pictured, has become absurdly expensive. A friend has just returned, complaining about having to pay £28 for a gin and tonic during the interval at a Broadway show. ‘And they didn’t even put ice in it.’
And what about the price of a theatre ticket itself? A seat in the stalls for The Phantom Of The Opera at the Majestic Theatre in New York on April 11 costs $343.62 (£287). A top seat for the same show on the same night at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London costs £122.
Sterling strengthened this week on the back of the PM’s deal on Northern Ireland — but, even so, Americans heading for the UK seem to have the advantage over Britons going the other way. Flying to New York is one thing; surviving while you’re there is another.