AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin-Bergstrom International Airport will now have a nonstop flight to Paris.
“I think this is going to be a very popular flight,” said Tom Noonan, Visit Austin’s President and CEO.
Norwegian Air announced Thursday its Austin to Paris nonstop service will begin May 6, 2020. During the summer, flights will operate three times a week from Austin to Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle Airport. People can book flights now for the period between May 6 and Sept. 20, 2020.
“Paris is one of those flagship destinations you want to put on your résumé as a city and as an airport,” said Noonan.
Lars Sande with Norwegian Air told KXAN the budget carrier did a lot of research before deciding to launch the service. “How many stops doesn’t really matter, but we see that ‘Okay, they’re going from Paris to Austin, and they’re flying to through hubs and so on.’ The big picture is how can we get people to fly directly?” he said.
For this route, they’re counting on tourists, both Texans going to Europe and Europeans coming here, to fill up the planes.
“We looked at the demand from the European point-of-view, but also the U.S. point-of-view,” said Sande.
Noonan said, “We had 28.9 million tourists that came through to Austin last year. That’s an all-time record for us.”
Fares for the new nonstop route will be as low as $219.90 one way in Economy.
Other nonstop flights from Austin to Europe
Norwegian’s announcement follows KLM’s news exactly one month ago about its new route to Amsterdam, and earlier this year, Lufthansa started flying direct to Frankfurt.
- KLM Airlines announced a new non-stop flight to Amsterdam last month, which is expected to start May 2020
- Another airline started flying non-stop to Frankfurt earlier this summer
- WestJet started a seasonal non-stop flight to Calgary this year
“The airline business is very competitive,” said Noonan. Both Visit Austin and the Austin Chamber of Commerce said it often takes years to land a new nonstop flight.
“I think what you’re seeing now, because Austin’s airport is the fastest-growing in the country, airlines across the spectrum, network carriers or airlines like Norwegian, have a lot of interest in the airport,” said Walter Zaykowski, the chamber’s Senior Director of Communications.
Zaykowski said he can’t reveal who’s asking, but said he hears from companies every week, and they say “Look, we’ve got interest in Amsterdam or Frankfurt or elsewhere. We’d really like to have that route.”
Using Dell as an example, he said, “They have operations all over the world. They want to get their people here, their headquarters, to any of their operations in Europe or Asia as quickly and efficiently as possible with as many options as possible.”
Additionally, he explained, having nonstop services helps with recruiting, too.
“Being able to show them, come to Austin, we have the talent pool. We have the quality of life. We have the cool factor, and you can get wherever you want to go easily and efficiently,” he said.
Right now, Austin has five nonstop flights to Europe:
- London Heathrow Airport: operated by British Airways
- London Gatwick Airport: operated by Norwegian Air
- Frankfurt: operated by Lufthansa
- Amsterdam: operated by KLM (begins May 2020)
- Paris: operated by Norwegian (begins May 2020)
Norwegian Airlines Senior Vice President of Commercial Matthew Wood also said it will increase its number of flights to London to four a week.
“After two successful seasons of our London service, the need to grow our presence in Austin was clear. Paris is one of our most popular European destinations from the U.S. and with great growth potential in this market,” Wood said.
The airport also began giving incentives to airlines to bring new nonstop and international flights. The city’s Department of Aviation approved the rules which will give airlines hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit, waiving facility fees and offer advertising money to those that bring in the flights.