Norwegian has decided to withdrawal two trans-Atlantic services in the coming months, the first time in a while that the rapidly expanding carrier has cancelled routes.
These two routes are Belfast, Northern Ireland / Edinburgh, Scotland to Stewart, New York. The cancellations will begin from October 26th.
“Following a comprehensive review of our services from Belfast in response to customer demand, we have decided to withdraw our routes from Belfast [And Edinburgh] to the New York and Boston areas.” – Norwegian press release
Norwegian Air Shuttle operates services to the New York airport of Stewart (SFW) and is the only international carrier to do so. As part of the Norwegian business model (In which everything is for sale), they look to operate services to smaller airports to save on taxes and competing with other airlines.
The UK arm of Norwegian operates flights to New York’s JFK airport.
“New York and Boston-Providence remain well served by Norwegian from Dublin, Shannon and Cork with up to 33 weekly departures, giving customers in Northern Ireland an alternative for booking daily affordable flights to the US” – Norwegian press release
And it is very well served, with Dublin airport experiencing an 82% rise in trans-Atlantic passengers in the last five years (up from 1.7 million in 2012 to 3.5 million last year). Norwegian has bumped the twice weekly flights from Dublin to three times a week.
But not everyone is happy.
The Belfast catchment area is home to 2 million people and from October they will no longer have direct flights from Northern Ireland to Canada and the USA.
According to a spokesperson from Belfast Intnerational Airport, they were strongly disappointed by the decision, and blamed it on scheduling conflicts by Norwegian, and “moronically channelling much greater levels of Northern Ireland passengers on to Dublin flights”.
“It is an unsustainable situation that two million people in our catchment area should be left with no option but to undertake lengthy and unnecessary journeys to Dublin in order to fly across the Atlantic” – Belfast International Airport.
What about Edinburgh?
Turns out that the route cancellation might not be due to customer demand in Edinburgh either.
According to a statement released by Norwegian, the decision to discontinue service between the United States and Edinburgh was tied to the Scottish government’s decision to postpone a 50 per cent reduction in air passenger taxes.
They had seven flights a week originally but scaled the services back when the new tax break was rumoured to be on the chopping block.
Now it’s been officially delayed, Norwegian has decided to withdraw service.
“It would not be a sustainable operation with the taxes” – Anders Lindstrom, spokesman for Norwegian
They have also cancelled other inter-Europe routes from Edinburgh.
Norwegian is currently incredibly budget conscious, selling their used planes and cutting other routes. We expect them to continue looking for ways to reduce costs.