Norwegian Scraps Long Haul Routes From Copenhagen & Stockholm

Low-cost specialist Norwegian has announced today that it will be dropping all its long haul flights from both Sweden and Denmark from the end of March onwards. These are specifically from Stockholm and Copenhagen to the US and Thailand. The airline blames the change on lack of demand as well as issues with the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines on its Dreamliners.

Norwegian long haul cuts
Norwegian has made some drastic changes to its long haul offerings. Photo: Norwegian

Details of the route closures

Norwegian has issued a statement today, which says that the airline has undertaken wat it calls a ‘thorough;’ review of all its long haul operations. As a result of this, it has decided to make some changes to its long haul schedules.

From March 29th, Norwegian’s long-haul routes out of Stockholm and Copenhagen will be discontinued. This will affect routes to the USA and Thailand, including New York, Los Angeles, Bangkok and Krabi. The last flights will depart the two Scandinavian capitals on March 29th.

Norwegian long haul cuts
Routes from Oslo remain unaffected. Photo: Norwegian

The international routes from Oslo remain in place, for the time being. Oslo to US destinations seems to have entirely escaped the cull, but questions remain over the Thailand routes. It its statement, Norwegian said,

“The route from Oslo to Bangkok will not be continued until the summer of 2020. The routes from Oslo to Krabi and Oslo to Bangkok are still being considered for the winter 2020/2021 (October 25, 2020 to March 27, 2021).”

What’s the problem?

The carrier is partly blaming the issues with the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 for its axing of the services. It has 36 787 Dreamliners across its fleet, many of which require new engines. Having aircraft on the ground has been costly for Norwegian, as it has previously had to enlist the help of Hi Fly’s A380, and has even had some flights diverted due to engine troubles.

Norwegian long haul cuts
The Trent 1000 is taking some of the blame. Photo: Rolls Royce

Senior Vice President of Commercial at Norwegian, Matthew Wood, commented on this, saying,

“For a long time, we have had challenges with the Rolls Royce engines on our long-haul flights, which means we need to have more aircraft on the ground. This affects the route program.”

However, it also appears that demand on these routes is just not sufficient to sustain the airline’s activities. Wood continued,

“…the long-distance market to and from Scandinavia is small, compared to large cities such as New York, London, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome. Scandinavia is not large enough to maintain intercontinental flights from Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen.”

As such, it seems Norwegian is putting all its proverbial eggs in one basket and counting on Oslo to deliver the demand it needs for its long haul routes in the future.

New focus on transatlantic

This news comes just days after the airline announced the appointment of its new CEO Jacob Schram. Although Schram will not officially take the helm of the airline until the New Year, he is clearly keen to start off on the right foot, with a clear focus on the lucrative US market.

SAS vs Norwegian
SAS and Finnair, as well as keen US based airlines, may pick up some of the lost capacity. Photo: SAS

Just recently Norwegian announced an increase in frequencies to the US from several European cities, and in today’s statement is clear that the demand for low cost US flights is not slowing down. In the statement, it said,

“The company is experiencing high demand for routes from major European cities such as London, Barcelona and Paris to a number of destinations in the US, and is therefore increasing the number of departures on several of these. New routes between Europe and the US have also been launched recently to meet the growing customer base. Norwegian now offers 50 routes between Europe and the United States and is the largest foreign airline in New York.”

Altogether, these changes, when considered with the recent interlining agreement with JetBlue, suggest that the airline wishes to continue being a leading carrier in the transatlantic market, just not from Scandinavia. That should come as welcome news for Finnair and SAS.