From down and out to Europe’s low-cost comeback kid? According to December’s passenger numbers, this could be the narrative Norwegian carries into 2022. Despite a month marred by the emergence of Omicron and subsequent kneejerk travel restrictions from governments across the continent, the Scandinavian budget airline transported just shy of one million passengers.
Numbers up 619% compared to 2020
To be precise, 931,917 passengers boarded Norwegian flights over the 31 days of December 2021 (this reporter is happy to state that they are part of those statistics for not one but three separate flights). That can be compared with the figures for the same month the year before when a mere 129,664 people flew with the airline. Load factors for last month came in at 71.3%, compared to 52.3 in December 2020.
Due to staff shortages, Scandinavian triple flag carrier SAS had to cancel close to 40 flights out of Stockholm Arlanda just before Christmas. However, Norwegian operated 99.6% of its scheduled flights, and 83.8% of those departed on time. In perhaps a bit of a poke to the competitor, Norwegian’s CEO says that the airline had provided a reliable option for passengers over the holidays.
“I am pleased that we have efficiently balanced the planning and implementation of our route network and production for December. This, in turn, meant that passengers could book and travel on Norwegian with confidence during the festive period allowing families and friends to be reunited,” said Geir Karlsen, Norwegian CEO, in a statement announcing December’s figures.
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CO2 emissions dropped significantly
During Norwegian’s first month of winter, other figures of note include the airline’s average flying distance, which increased by 87% compared to December 2020. This is not much of a surprise as, at the time, the airline was mainly operating subsidized domestic routes in Norway. However, CO2 emissions per revenue passenger kilometer (RPK) were reduced by 37%.
Will we see the MAX back on the schedule soon?
Throughout the month of December, Norwegian had an average of 48 aircraft in operation. Since the airline decided to drop its 737 MAX 8 aircraft in March 2021, it currently only operates 737-800s with an average age of 7.6 years. However, Norwegian will, in all likelihood, re-introduce the MAX before long.
At the beginning of last month, Norwegian signed a nine-year power-by-the-hour agreement for at least two of Boeing’s latest narrowbody. Meanwhile, the contract leaves the option for Norwegian to switch the aircraft for ‘new technology’ Airbus jets. In a show of optimism, Norwegian is also set to receive an additional 13 737-800s during Q1 of 2022.
Have you traveled often with Norwegia, perhaps even this December? What made you choose the airline over other options? Are you glad to see the potential return of the MAX to the carrier’s fleet? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.