After years of rapid growth, the budget transatlantic operators seem to have slowed down recently. There are a number of telling factors which seem to indicate that the whole market could be in limbo. We’ve seen Primera Air go bust, while Norwegian have been cancelling routes and selling aircraft that haven’t even been delivered yet. This all leads to the conclusion that maybe everything isn’t quite as peachy as it seems in this specific sector. As such we’ll take a look at the latest cancellations, and discuss how it affects the industry.
WOW Air Cancellations
Back in May, WOW Air launched three new US flights from its hub in Reykjavik. These flights were serving the three destinations of Cincinnati, Cleveland, and St. Louis. At the time several questioned whether the route would have the traffic required to operate successfully. It appears as though the answer was no, as just months later the routes have been cancelled. The Cincinnati and Cleveland routes were only meant as seasonal, so they will cease to operate as planned later in October. In addition, the St Louis route will be discontinued from January 7th 2019. This means that from January 7th, the only midwest routes operated by WOW will be to Detroit and Chicago.
Is The Industry Sustainable?
Everything that is currently happening within the budget transatlantic market seems to point to the fact that maybe the industry isn’t as sustainable as it seems. In fact, the market appears to be in some form of limbo at the moment, with all of the really big budget airlines having to cut costs drastically. The biggest, most drastic action that we’ve seen so far is the bankruptcy of Primera Air. Everything appeared to be going in Primera Air’s favour, as the airline had just launched a number of new routes and announced even more. The first sign of trouble was when the airline cancelled all flights to and from Birmingham, however, at the time it was assumed that this was just because of the market not being strong enough.
Since this, we have seen both Norwegian and WOW air cut the number of routes it is operating. First was Norwegian who announced that they were stopping transatlantic flights from Edinburgh and Belfast. The reason given for Edinburgh was the UK’s Air Passenger Duty. In contrast, Norwegian gave the reason for the cancellation of Belfast flights due to lack of demand. Now WOW air has begun to cancel some of its less profitable routes. This all leads to the question, “Is the budget transatlantic market safe?”. We’ll have to wait and see for the answer to this question, however, it is certainly worrying.
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