Norwegian Air Shuttle's Argentine unit is planning direct flights from Buenos Aires to Los Angeles, New York, and Istanbul as part of a $4.3 billion expansion in  Argentina over the next 10 years, Bloomberg informs.

A low-cost carrier is also considering service the US flights to Dallas, Honolulu, and Johannesburg, Ole Christian  Melhus, head of Norwegian's operations in Argentina, told Bloomberg. The US operations are scheduled to start by the end of 2018, after the airline begins serving Argentina's domestic routes and South American destinations, challenging a state-run Aerolineas Argentinas, which currently dominates the country's domestic aviation industry.

Norwegian announced its plans to operate flights in Argentina in December 2016, after extending its discount model from European short-haul flights into North Atlantic operations. In January 2017, the Norwegian Group established an Argentinian subsidiary, as it considered the country to be “an interesting market with great potential that fits Norwegian's global strategy very well, combining affordable domestic and international flights,” CEO of Norwegian Air Argentina said in an official statement.  

Back then, the airline stated that from February 14, 2018, it will start a year-round service of four weekly flights from London Gatwick to Buenos Aires Ezeiza International Airport on board Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

“This announcement by Norwegian is key to improve our country's international air connectivity for a better integration to the world, ” Argentine Ambassador Carlos Sersale di Cerisano stated. “The fact that the airline chose Buenos Aires to open its first ever South American route confirms that Argentina is the natural door to the continent.”

Later, the airline unveiled its plan to expand capacity to the US by allocating some of its short-haul operating slots at London's Gatwick airport to inter-continental operations.

Some unions and airlines in the US objected to Norwegian's effort to broaden operations in the country, arguing that the arrangement would give them an unfair competitive advantage by circumventing labor-protection laws. Thus, the Norwegian carrier is in dispute with the Airline Pilots Association, which represents 55,000 pilots at 32 airlines, and the Master Executive Council, which represents 12,000 United Airlines pilots, over the use of its Irish subsidiary, Norwegian  Air International Limited.

The airline's expansion into the US market started in December 2016, when American travel authorities granted permission for Norwegian to fly to the US from Cork, through its Irish arm. However, the chairman of the MEC Todd Insler claimed that this permission “will destroy our US airline industry and all of the jobs associated with it,” the Telegraph reported.