Norwegian Air just announced that they are ending their TransAtlantic Europe to USA and Canada flights and route segments intended for their narrowbody Boeing 737 Max airplane. The decision affects all of Norwegian’s narrow body flights between Europe across the North Atlantic Ocean to the U.S.A. and Canada.
U.S. destinations served on their narrowbody segments include New York and Providence. Hamilton, Ontario is the destination Norwegian will be discontinuing service to in Canada.
This, according to the Norwegian publication E24.
Matthew Robert Wood issued the announcement today. He is Norwegian’s Senior Vice President of Long-haul Commercial.
Norwegian has been contracting the airplanes and flight crews used for these routes ever since the grounding of the 737 Max. Norwegian entered into a wet-lease agreement with a third-party airline operator.
The grounded aircraft appear to be positioned for inter-European flying when and if the Max gets airborne again.
The grounding of the 737 Max is not the only reason why Norwegian is ending the narrowbody North America flights
Of course, the uncertainty of the return of the Max played an important role in Norwegian’s decision. However, another reason was lack of profitability on these routes.
It has been the dream of many airlines to utilize narrow-body airplanes with a fuel-efficient burn across the Atlantic Ocean for a long time. However, Norwegian Air has not found their TransAtlantic destinations profitable.
The reach of the current narrowbody aircraft, such as the B737 Max (as well as the Airbus Neo), is such that they can only be flown nonstop between the US (or Canadian) East Coast to points in far western Europe, such as the UK and Ireland.
Norwegian Air’s TransAtlantic narrowbody service strategy
Norwegian aimed to create a profitable TransAtlantic market. They were trying out serving smaller cities in Europe, such as Belfast, Ireland, and Edinburgh, Scotland.
The Belfast and Edinburgh routes were discontinued in September of 2018. This was long before the 737 Max grounding in 2019, not proving profitable.
Norwegian’s narrowbody TransAtlantic operation has proven unsuccessful. There simply weren’t a sufficient amount of seats available. Other problems involved occasional flight distance-challenges. Changing winds and other limits, and insufficient demand for these markets and city-pairings, in general, contributed to unprofitability.
Norwegian Air’s remaining transatlantic narrowbody routes
The remaining narrowbody third-party operated routes fly from the US to Cork, Dublin and Shannon, all located in Ireland.
These operations will seize on September 15, 2019, when their last USA flight arrives Dublin.
B787 TransAtlantic operation to continue unaffected
Norwegian has a very strong market foothold utilizing their B787 Dreamliners across the Atlantic. They currently operate 46 B787 routes between the US and Europe.
How about customers with bookings on the discontinued routes?
Norwegian Air says they have contacted their customers to offer a full refund or a rebooking on other Norwegian flights.
The Focus plan, Norwegian’s expenditure analysis program
According to airline analyst Hans Jørgen Elnæs at a company called WinAir, Norwegian’s decision was probably a result of the airline’s overall plans to increase profitability system-wide. The Focus plan details include cutting two billion Norwegian Kroner (USD $225 million) in expenditures while eliminating non-profitable bases and routes. Norwegian has already made cuts in several bases, as well as eliminating some routes in Southern Europe.
Featured Image Credit: Norwegian Air.