Low-cost long-haul lands in France – and the ETA on Google?

The arrival of lost-cost long-haul flights in France, particularly to the United States, is game changing for travelers. Flights to New York now start at just €159 and you can jet off to Los Angeles for under €200. Despite claims that low-cost long-haul simply isn’t viable, Norwegian is leading the way both on and offline.

Norwegian often pops up in conversations, especially in relation to Los Angeles, a destination previously with very few direct flights from France and sky-high prices as a result of the mono/duopole of Air France and Delta (Skyteam alliance).

By offering direct single fares from €199.90, Norwegian will without doubt boost the number of passengers using this route!

Norwegian home page
Norwegian home page

Norwegian offers direct flights from Paris to Boston, Denver, Miami, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco (as well as medium-haul Scandinavian destinations) to become an airline to watch in France!

Norwegian set off immediate reactions from competitors

Norwegian, a traditional airline turned low-cost, launched cheap long-haul flights to the States in 2016 and was the first airline to reach a changeover agreement with EasyJet at London Gatwick.

Historic players in France reacted swiftly – Air France created Joon (currently medium-haul) and British Airways & Iberia launched Level (flights to New York, Montreal and the Caribbean). Former charter airlines also jumped on the bandwagon – like XL airways with 4 US destinations – and are promoting their low-cost long-haul destinations increasingly aggressively.

French Bee, the new low-cost long-haul airline from Dubreuil (Air Caraibes) – which had to change name to enter the US market as French Blue could have been confused with US competitor JetBlue – focuses on flights from Paris to San Francisco as a stopover on the way to Tahiti.

Notoriety of low-cost airlines in France in 2018

We can see that EasyJet is the low-cost airline with the greatest number of monthly searches in France followed by Ryanair, Vueling, Wow and XL Airways. While Air France – which now owns former charter airline Transavia – gets 2,740,000 monthly searches.

Norwegian scores 90,500 monthly searches and Level 12,000.

Airlines awareness searches
Airlines searches

Search volumes for top flight keywords for United States

Searches for flights to the United States, logically, focus on the cities people want to visit. “Vol états unis” (flight united states), “billet d’avion états unis” (plane ticket united states), “vol usa” (flight usa) and “paris usa” all get less than 1,000 monthly searches – the strongest country key word is “vol états unis” with 590 monthly searches.

The biggest number of searches relate to “vol paris new york” (flight paris new york) and “paris new york” (27,100 monthly searches). These are followed by “vol new york” (flight new york), “ paris los angeles” (8,100 searches), and “paris miami” (6,600 searches).

Destination searches for France - United States
Destination searches for France – United States

Other popular long-haul destinations include Paris Bangkok (12,100 searches/ month), Paris Dubai (9,900 searches), Paris Tokyo (8,100 searches) and Paris Bali (5,400 searches).

Ranking for top US destinations

As you can see, it is very difficult for airlines to rank well for the top keywords in the North American market.

The SERPs are saturated by flight comparison sites and online travel companies. Norwegian has, however, managed to reach the best spots for Paris + Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

The URL that ranks No.1 for “paris los angeles” – https://www.norwegian.com/fr/vols/de-paris/a-los-angeles/ – contains more than 1000 words.

Ranking for United States keywords
Ranking for United States keywords

For generic keywords, Norwegian ranks better than its competitors, but still only makes page 3 of the search results!

Airlines clearly need to adapt a SEO strategy focusing on longtail to gain ground for non-brand keywords, while also investing in their brand notoriety.

Ranking on generic keywords
Ranking on generic keywords

Air Caraibes and Corsair must have been relieved that in the end Norwegian decided not to introduce flights to the Caribbean, as they had initially announced. But, you never know what the future may hold – so, watch this (air)space!

Have you traveled with one of these new low-cost long-haul airlines? How did you make your choice – Google search? Flight comparison site? Word of mouth? We’d love to hear from you – just let us know in the comments.

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