Predictable: Norse Atlantic Cancels Winter Flights

Predictable: Norse Atlantic Cancels Winter Flights

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Norse Atlantic Airways is the transatlantic airline startup that launched operations this summer. For all practical purposes, the airline is largely replicating what Norwegian did, before the airline discontinued long haul flights while on the brink of liquidation.

The long haul ultra low cost carrier business model is notoriously unprofitable, primarily because of the seasonality of long haul leisure demand. That’s a lesson that Norse Atlantic seems to be learning at the moment.

Norse Atlantic axes winter schedule

Norse Atlantic has just canceled hundreds of flights from its winter schedule, including discontinuing flights to Los Angeles just shortly after launching them. Specifically, for the winter schedule (through March 2023), Norse Atlantic has:

  • Canceled Berlin (BER) to Los Angeles (LAX) service; this was supposed to operate 3x weekly
  • Canceled Oslo (OSL) to Los Angeles (LAX) service; this was supposed to operate 3x weekly
  • Reduced Oslo (OSL) to New York (JFK) service from 7x weekly to 3x weekly
  • Reduced Oslo (OSL) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) service from 3x weekly to 2x weekly

So, which routes will Norse Atlantic operate this winter? In addition to the two routes above that still have service, the airline currently plans to operate:

  • Oslo (OSL) to London (LGW) service 7x weekly
  • London (LGW) to New York (JFK) service 7x weekly
  • Berlin (BER) to New York (JFK) service 3x weekly
  • Berlin (BER) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) service 3x weekly

I’d note that this is the plan as of now, though who knows if we’ll see even more route cuts in the coming weeks. This of course sucks for consumers — airline startups (and especially ultra low cost carriers) often have quite a bit of trial and error with new routes. So it’s frustrating when you plan a trip around a particular flight, only to have that route cut. I suspect the airline will be unwilling to book passengers on other airlines.

Norse Atlantic’s route map

Is Norse Atlantic’s business model sustainable?

Long haul ultra low cost carriers are great for competition, and I want them to succeed. However, there’s no denying that historically the business model simply hasn’t worked. Norse Atlantic really is replicating Norwegian’s business model here, down to the fact that Norse Atlantic flies former Norwegian Boeing 787s.

So, is Norse Atlantic setting itself up for failure? To the new carrier’s credit:

  • Norse Atlantic has leased Boeing 787s on much better terms than Norwegian did, so that helps in terms of cost structure
  • Norse Atlantic management has been very clear that the airline has the luxury of parking planes when the demand isn’t there, though that only works for so long
  • I have to give credit to Norse Atlantic’s management team for at least thinking outside of the box; for example, the airline has allegedly subleased out four Boeing 787s, which helps with covering costs

Norse Atlantic CEO Bjorn Tore Larsen did recently hint at the airline possibly cutting winter routes, due to high fuel prices, inflation, and general uncertainty in demand:

“The winter season is historically more challenging for the industry and this year faces the additional burden of high fuel prices, increasing inflation in the markets that we operate and uncertainty in overall demand. Norse Atlantic will continue to evaluate Winter 2022 routes in line with demand and profitability.”

While the airline has a good amount of liquidity, that only gets you so far when you have aircraft lease payments, and passenger demand simply isn’t there in winter.

For that matter, Norse Atlantic’s load factor in August wasn’t exactly amazing. The airline had an average load factor of 69% — that’s significantly below the industry average for a summer of unprecedented leisure demand, but then again, Norse Atlantic is also an airline startup, so it takes time to get the word out.

While Norse Atlantic no doubt has a competitive advantage over previous entrants into the transatlantic ultra low cost market, I still don’t see this working in the long run. If you ask me:

  • Since long haul ultra low cost carriers rarely achieve close to a 100% load factor, I think the airline should reconfigure planes into a three cabin layout, and offer business class seats as well; this could be a unique value proposition with a flat bed but without the other typical frills associated with business class
  • In addition to the business model of actually selling tickets on flights, the airline could lease out its planes to other airlines, as needed; that’s potentially a more consistent revenue stream, and having a three cabin layout would make the product useful to more airlines
Will Norse Atlantic be viable in the long run?

Bottom line

Norse Atlantic has significantly scaled back its winter schedule, as the airline is suspending flights to Los Angeles, and is reducing other routes as well. Norse Atlantic is running into the same issue that every previous transatlantic ultra low cost carrier faced, which is that it’s very hard to operate profitably in winter across the Atlantic without business travel.

I’m curious to see how Norse Atlantic evolves over time…

What do you make of Norse Atlantic’s winter route cuts?

(Tip of the hat to Ishrion Aviation)

Conversations (22)
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  1. Fred Guest

    We, 3 of us, are flying to LA on Saturday October 15th and do not have any return flights. Norse says on e-mail they will send us on a domestic carrier to Newark and take us from JFK to OSL with their own flight. But two days ago they stopped communicating. i think we will be stuck in LA. We have 3000 $ ++ in non refundable expenses already payed in San Diego.

  2. TR Guest

    I was very excited to finally have a nonstop from LAX to BER. I flew with them once on a semi-sale rate. For the return, the rates were bizarre - about a grand one-way including bag. Not low cost!

    I hope they bring that route back, as nobody else offers it. And it doesn’t need to be crazy cheap, but competitive with traditional airlines who often charge less RT then Norse was offering one way....

    I was very excited to finally have a nonstop from LAX to BER. I flew with them once on a semi-sale rate. For the return, the rates were bizarre - about a grand one-way including bag. Not low cost!

    I hope they bring that route back, as nobody else offers it. And it doesn’t need to be crazy cheap, but competitive with traditional airlines who often charge less RT then Norse was offering one way. If they price competitively, with the nonstop factor as their value add, and let people know it exists and work with aggregator sites, it could be successful. And it I only just found out about it. They didn’t give time for people to even know this great, unique routing existed.

  3. Jamie Guest

    So disappointed, I am British but living in LA now and this was new goto for going back and forth. Flew Oslo to LA earlier this week and it was one of the best flights I've ever taken. I hope they open the LAX flights up again, sad to see not gone already.

  4. paddy Guest

    This is Totally irresposible, how do they expect to stay in business if they cancel flights and only offer a refund, expecting their customers to fend for themselves. My 18 year old son is now stranded in Los Angeles and will have to buy a high priced one way ticket to get him home.
    I have my doubts about this airline, they have no customer service telephone and their website looks like it was...

    This is Totally irresposible, how do they expect to stay in business if they cancel flights and only offer a refund, expecting their customers to fend for themselves. My 18 year old son is now stranded in Los Angeles and will have to buy a high priced one way ticket to get him home.
    I have my doubts about this airline, they have no customer service telephone and their website looks like it was thrown together by teenagers in someones garage.
    They will be bankrupt within a year if they dont take care of their customers better.

  5. Jayson Guest

    Flew them JFK-Berlin in Sept. Loved them looking to fly them to London as the US dollar is strong. 2 things flight attendants told me. 1) Cargo was a big part of the airline strategy so planes don't need to be full 2) Rumor that JFK to Paris was in the works for end of year. But maybe that's why it's called a rumor.

  6. Eric Guest

    My family of three were booked LAX to BER in March 2023 in Premier Seating ( took advantage of their recent sale in September).
    Had booked connecting flight on easyJet to Rome.
    Started with easyJet cancelling flights till I finally requested a refund after the third time (I got it). Then yesterday, September 30th I got the email the Norse had been cancelled. I emailed and they replied back right away that I...

    My family of three were booked LAX to BER in March 2023 in Premier Seating ( took advantage of their recent sale in September).
    Had booked connecting flight on easyJet to Rome.
    Started with easyJet cancelling flights till I finally requested a refund after the third time (I got it). Then yesterday, September 30th I got the email the Norse had been cancelled. I emailed and they replied back right away that I would get full refund in 5 days. (Fingers crossed)
    Was looking at rebooking on French Bee, but worried they may be next?
    I think the continental EU low-costs are getting hammered too. Been lots of cancellations/schedule changes on them too

  7. John Guest

    How about Oslo to Orlando? Will that continue?

  8. Wencke Guest

    So very disappointing. I was looking forward to a non stop from Orlando to Oslo . Can't believe they already cancelled the flight after just 3 months.

  9. garyh911 Guest

    Since Berlin to New York comes under EU regulations, do they have to book you on another airline when they cancel a route that you have a reservation on?

    1. Timothy Ernest Guest

      They will succeed. They need to b Ave actual telephone service .It is costing NA tons if money not having an actual customer service representative department . It looks very low class and second rate not to have a telephone number! They need a scholarly in flight magazine like Norwegian does.

  10. James Guest

    How embarrassing announcing cutting LAX mere 6 weeks after the first flight. Though in honesty, why they even commenced LAX so late in the season (August 11th) was baffling to start with. With schools in LA reopening August 15th, the summer was over for many potential travelers already.

  11. Icarus Guest

    IMHO they won’t be around long. Like Pan Am pre-deregulation they have no short haul network and rely entirely on point to point traffic.

    Better to travel on a legacy carrier with more flights, who can also reroute you including other carriers, in case of irrops

    Looking at the map, geography isn’t their strong point.

  12. april Guest

    I have a booked flight to Oslo tomorrow - can't pull up their website at all. any suggestions? is the company out of business?

    1. TR Guest

      I was very excited to finally have a nonstop from LAX to BER. I flew with them once on a semi-sale rate. For the return, the rates were bizarre - about a grand one-way including bag. Not low cost!

      I hope they bring that route back, as nobody else offers it. And it doesn’t need to be crazy cheap, but competitive with traditional airlines who often charge less RT then Norse was offering one...

      I was very excited to finally have a nonstop from LAX to BER. I flew with them once on a semi-sale rate. For the return, the rates were bizarre - about a grand one-way including bag. Not low cost!

      I hope they bring that route back, as nobody else offers it. And it doesn’t need to be crazy cheap, but competitive with traditional airlines who often charge less RT then Norse was offering one way. If they price competitively, with the nonstop factor as their value add, and let people know it exists and work with aggregator sites, it could be successful. And it I only just found out about it. They didn’t give time for people to even know this great, unique routing existed.

  13. John T Guest

    I wish Norse was a bit more nimble and creative with their routes networks given the seasonality of European travel. People in London and Oslo still travel in winter, just not to places like New York.
    Surely Florida is a safe bet for a year round operation. In winter, couldnt Norse send their aircraft to Dubai, Cape Town and Bangkok? Plenty of Europeans head there for winter sun.

  14. Rory Guest

    it’s funny how on the map above showing their routes, LGW is pinned on Dublin, Ireland on the map, and Great Britain isn’t even displayed….

    1. AA70 Diamond

      lol good observation

  15. David Guest

    Plus, winter leisure traffic tends to be more heavily European originating (vacationers going to Florida, etc) and with the historically low exchange rate for all European currencies vs. the dollar, that demand must be down this year.

  16. AnishReddi Member

    Arguably Scoot is the most successful airline for low cost long haul, but unlike scoot they have a short haul network to help them with connections along with SQ routing some passengers on them when they don't serve a city, like Jetstar backed by Qantas.
    Are there any low cost long haul carriers which have succeeded without the backing of a legacy carrier?

  17. Leo Liang Guest

    They would earn much more money by running 3 weekly flights to China, one from OSL,BER and LGW each, instead of trying to fly across the Atlantic.
    They should also run zipair model instead, no frill airline with premium seating options.

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Where on Earth do you get that from?

      Do you have any idea how cratered the demand between US/EU and mainland China is, right now?

    2. Stahlilama Guest

      They do offer premium seating.

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Rory Guest

it’s funny how on the map above showing their routes, LGW is pinned on Dublin, Ireland on the map, and Great Britain isn’t even displayed….

2
Eric Guest

My family of three were booked LAX to BER in March 2023 in Premier Seating ( took advantage of their recent sale in September). Had booked connecting flight on easyJet to Rome. Started with easyJet cancelling flights till I finally requested a refund after the third time (I got it). Then yesterday, September 30th I got the email the Norse had been cancelled. I emailed and they replied back right away that I would get full refund in 5 days. (Fingers crossed) Was looking at rebooking on French Bee, but worried they may be next? I think the continental EU low-costs are getting hammered too. Been lots of cancellations/schedule changes on them too

1
ConcordeBoy Diamond

Where on Earth do you get that from? Do you have any idea how cratered the demand between US/EU and mainland China is, right now?

1
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