Norwegian continue their cost-cutting efforts with a big schedule shakeup for winter. Beginning at the end of October, 10 routes between Europe and the US will be dropped, along with two permanent cancellations. It’s not known whether these seasonal adjustments will be permanent or not.
Matthew Robert Wood, Senior Vice President of Norwegian’s Commercial Long-Haul and New Markets commented on the new schedule to CH-Aviation, saying,
“After a thorough review of our long-haul network and given that some U.S. markets are highly seasonal, it is a natural step to focus our operations this winter on counter seasonal routes that are more profitable, such as Asia, and also looking into growing our South America network”
This is somewhat ironic in timing, as just this week CAPA dubbed Norwegian the leading airline from London Gatwick to destinations in North America. The carrier has said that some of the routes ‘might’ return in winter 2020/21.
Which routes have been canceled?
The full list of routes which have been canceled on Norwegian’s winter timetable are:
- Boston (BOS) – Paris (CDG)
- Chicago (ORD) – London (LGW)
- Denver (DEN) – London (LGW)
- Fort Lauderdale (FLL) – Copenhagen (CPH)
- Los Angeles (LAX) – Copenhagen (CPH)
- Los Angeles (LAX) – Oslo (OSL)
- Los Angeles (LAX) – Rome (FCO)
- New York (JFK) – Copenhagen (CPH)
- New York (JFK) – Stockholm (ARN)
- Orlando (MCO) – Oslo (OSL)
Of these, the majority will be coming back in the summer timetable, probably. However, two routes will not be making any further appearances. We’ve known Las Vegas was to be scrapped for some time, but now it seems that their route from Stockholm to Orlando will be scrapped for good too.
While taking a step back from the highly competitive transatlantic market does make sense for the carrier, it’s going to come as a blow to those who were hoping for a hop across the pond later this year.
As well as this, Norwegian are moving their year-round services from Barcelona and Paris from the current Oakland to San Francisco, beginning in winter 2019/20. The routes will reduce down to twice a week from the current three and four times a week.
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These adjustments see the carrier operating just 113 flights per week from Europe to the United States this winter, down from 188 over the summer and 150 last winter.
What does this all mean?
While it’s not unusual for airlines to cancel routes during the slower winter season, the fact that Norwegian has previously operated these services year-round is somewhat telling. The airline is suffering with a lack of profitability, leadership changes and, of course, a number of 737 MAX aircraft grounded.
The fact they are pulling back from the transatlantic market for the winter is significant. It signals a time of belt-tightening at the carrier, in a bid, no doubt, to return to profitability next year. There are also signs that the airline is perhaps looking to diversify its long haul strategy, exploring less crowded marketplaces such as the UK to South Africa routes.
As to whether these destinations come back next year, Simple Flying thinks that many of these are just too good to say no to. It’s likely they’ll be back in time for the summer, but whether they’ll go back to being year-round remains to be seen. Norwegian are likely taking a bit of a step back and seeing how the market develops before they commit to future plans.
Simple Flying reached out to Norwegian and will update this article once a response has been received.