Uh Oh: Norwegian Canceling Long-Haul Scandinavian Routes
Norwegian Air has been going through difficult financial times. After a failed takeover attempt by IAG, many wondered whether Norwegian would be next. Given all the European low cost carriers that have liquidated lately, it’s almost been a surprise that Norwegian hasn’t joined them.
However, things have seemed to be moving in the right direction as of late. The airline reported a record profit last quarter and recently hired a new CEO. Whether the airline remains on track to sustainable profitability is yet to be seen.
Norwegian Canceling Long-Haul Service
Effective March 29, 2020, Norwegian will end long-haul operations from Stockholm and Copenhagen to the US. In addition, the airline will also end operations between those cities and Thailand. They’ll also be ending the Oslo-Bangkok route this summer. However, the airline plans to continue long-haul flights between Oslo and the US.
The airline said their Stockholm and Copenhagen long-haul routes were losing money due to low demand and issues with their Boeing 787s. With new leadership and a renewed focus on profitability, the airline was looking to reduce losses. It seems like these routes were a part of the problem and not worth the trouble.
Why does this matter?
You’re probably wondering, “OK, so what? It’s just a couple routes to the US that I’d probably never fly anyway.” While that may be true, this still has the potential to impact just about every flyer.
Norwegian may not be your ideal way to get across the Atlantic, but they serve a very important purpose in the Transatlantic market. By offering low fares, Norwegian has forced competitors to bring down their prices. They’re largely the reason why we’ve seen record low airfares across the Atlantic. With WOW Air already going under, Norwegian is the last major low cost carrier operating in the market. If they were to fail, it’s likely that these fares would rise and in a hurry.
The Good News
While Norwegian is reducing transatlantic service from their non-Oslo locations, they currently do not have plans to reduce service from Oslo. In addition, they apparently plan to add long-haul flights between the US other popular European markets, such as London, Barcelona, and Paris.
The airline also stated that there are no planned changes to their intra-European short-haul service at this time.
Obviously, it stinks anytime an airline has to cancel routes. It gives travelers one less option to get from Point A to Point B. However, in this case, I think it makes sense. Norwegian has been struggling with profitability and these routes appear. This isn’t a huge pull-back. It’s just a few long-haul routes.
If it helps Norwegian on the route to profitability, I’m all for it. The transatlantic market needs a low cost competitor to keep prices low on airlines like Delta, American, and United. Let’s hope this is a smart financial decision rather than a sign of trouble ahead.