Norwegian Cancelling All Transatlantic Flights From Scotland

18 months ago, Norwegian made a huge announcement that they were launching a series of narrow body flights between Europe and North America, using Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. Most transatlantic flights are operated by long haul, wide body aircraft, so this announcement was significant because there were now much smaller planes that had lower operating costs and would be much easier to fill.

Now the 737 MAX does have restrictions on how far it can fly non stop, so Norwegian was limited in the routes they could operate the aircraft with. So they chose European cities in Ireland and Scotland that were as far west as possible, and then secondary airports in the east coast US.

There was plenty of debate amongst OMAAT readers at the time of the viability of these routes.

Some of you recognised the catchment area of the US airports was significant enough that these flights would work at the right prices.

Others noted that the distance from the major cities of New York and Boston that they were serving made it too time consuming and inconvenient, regardless of the cost savings.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Norwegian initially announced that they would fly from Edinburgh, Scotland to the following destinations

  • Stewart Airport (SWF),
  • Hartford (BDL), and
  • Providence (PVD)

However, this strategy has not worked for Norwegian as planned.

In January 2018, Norwegian announced they were cancelling flights from Edinburgh to Hartford from March 2018, and reducing services to Stewart and Providence. Then in April 2018 they announced they would cancel flights from Edinburgh to Providence from October 2018.

Now comes the news that they will also be cancelling flights from Edinburgh to Stewart from March 2019, meaning they will no longer operate transatlantic flights from Edinburgh.

Norwegian has blamed the frustrating UK Air Passenger Duty Tax which the Scottish Government has considered reducing for flights from Scotland, as Norwegian launched the flights. The Scottish Government has decided not to reduce the APD, so Norwegian has said routes from Scotland are not profitable.

Bottom line

It is always a risk launching a route on the prospect of a government initiative that will reduce costs.

If Norwegian could manage to get the 737 MAX to work to secondary cities in mainland Europe (without the UK APD) I could definitely see the model working — after all, Primera Air is trying it, and they don’t have anywhere near the brand recognition that Norwegian does.

Norwegian will continue to operate flights between the US and Ireland using the 737 MAX aircraft and it’s still an exciting time to travel given all these airlines are trying all these interesting new routes with their next generation aircraft.

I’ve just seen they are also cancelling all transatlantic flights from Belfast.

Edinburgh remains a wonderful destination to visit, regardless of how you might fly there.

Would you fly a Norwegian 737 across the Atlantic?

Comments

  1. APD truly is a tax that affects the economy. This is the kind of tax that when reduced should help the economy immediately.

    Unlike the reduction of the taxes for the rich that white Republicans in the USA undertake. That is just a money grab and theft under deceit.

    Hope Norwegian is successful and Republicans are in prison.

  2. @ James
    “they chose European cities in Ireland and Scotland that were as far west as possible”

    You don’t actually mean that, do you, since Glasgow is a city in Scotland that is much further west than Edinburgh (and Prestwick with its airport is even further west – the only place in the UK that Elvis Presley ever visited, stopping for refuelling en route to Germany (I think) during his Army stint)?

    But it’s an interesting time for Scottish aviation: Emirates has just announced a reduction in the number of services it plans to run to and from Edinburgh (itself a replacement for Etihad, which pulled out of Edinburgh).

    And can I be the lone voice in favour of APD? It taxes bad things, is progressive (premium tickets get way bigger tax bills), and discourages frivolous flying (and carbon emissions). All good. I certainly don’t mind paying it.

  3. I *have* flowing one from BFS-PVD last year. All the BFS routes are also getting canned, sadly. It was pleasant enough, but the flight was more than half empty. I occasionally checked the loads on Expert Flyer and this still seemed to be the case, so I’m not surprised to see them pulling out.

    Shame, as Providence is lovely. Getting down to DUB adds a bit of added inconvenience, although it does spare one the dreadful BFS experience.

  4. It’s sad that comments like “Debit” made have to take away from this “article”

    with that said it was a business decision to attempt the service and a business decision to halt them. The problem with Socialism is when you have to spend your own money.

  5. Ireland is the sweet spot in any event, both because of its low rate of APD and because it is that much closer. Hubs in Dublin and Shannon makes more sense than high-tax Scotland with its winter weather issues as well. Could link with RyanAir flights, perhaps?

  6. If only TTN/Mercer County had some vision for a longer runway and new terminal building. It makes much more sense for Norwegian to fly out of there than SWF or BDL.

  7. @ The Nice Paul – I meant that they chose desirable cities that were fairly far west as far as Europe goes (i.e. in Scotland and Ireland rather than say Italy or Germany.
    I didn’t mean they only selected the most geographically western airports only.

  8. I feel like such a novice asking this, but are they just stopping future flights or actually cancelling flights people have booked? I’m asking because I was planning to book a Dublin flight out of Stewart, but I’m worried about it being cancelled. Thanks for any insight!

  9. Really sorry to hear this. We have flown Norwegian Air several times and have been very satisfied. We stopped flying out of the UK cities whenever we can select an alternate specifically because of the Air Passenger Duty (a tax by any other name), which has seen a steady, almost yearly, increase. We’ve just returned from a trip which included Holland, Tanzania and the UK … we used the “short haul” airlines as a method to reduce the APD … fortunately for us, we have the time to “pick and choose.” Spending extra time in Ireland to avoid the APD in the UK means we devote the money we would have spent on a “UK tax” enjoying ourselves…

  10. Sounds to me like this announcement is designed to put pressure on the government to reconsider their APD decision.

  11. @the nice Paul

    Are you serious? The APD has not changed any impact on the environment- it has just driven Tom and the rest of us out of LHR into other European airports possibly adding an unnecessary extra short flight to the UK. This is worse environmentally.

    I haven’t flown to/through the UK since this tax became so onerous!

  12. @ Michelle – they have been adding extra flights to DUB as demand has been good. I would not worry about DUB flights

  13. @Tom – Edinburgh and Glasgow have pretty much the same weather as Dublin. There’s not usually weather disruptions, the last winter being an exception!

    I don’t think there’s any regular long haul flights from BFS outside of seasonal flights to Orlando. Dublin airport isn’t that much further to travel for most people.

  14. @ Azamaraal

    There are different sorts of environmental impacts. For example, LHR is full-up, and in the wrong place (flight path right over central London? After 9/11?). So anything that gets people to avoid LHR and use other airports instead is a win. You may still choose to transit through there (Christ knows why. It’s one of the worst airports on the planet – I write this even though it’s my main home hub); but others won’t.

  15. Could definitely see another seasonal transatlantic route from BFS. Virgin fly a 747 seasonally to Orlando. EWR, JFK or even PVD would be a great seasonal option from BFS. Any airlines fancy it?

  16. @The nice Paul

    Has any research been published on how APD has affected CO2 emissions? As a committed “frivolous” flyer it has only added to my carbon footprint as per last week when I flew LHR-DUB-LHR-LAX i.e an otherwise pointless LHR-DUB positioning flight.

    APD makes no difference to business or hobby flyers who are mostly not sensitive to price. The people hit most are families on their annual holiday and especially any opting for premium economy; which suffers the same higher rate APD as First Class.

  17. I’m sorry to hear this. I had wanted to try the Edinburgh to Newburgh route – despite my claustrophobia!

  18. Several years ago we received an email from the CEO of BA (I believe it was sent to all of their frequent flyers), explaining that the taxes and APD were making it impossible to offer competitive airfare in and out of LHR. He requested that we send a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer explaining the impact these fees were having on our travel decisions regarding travel to the UK. We sent the letter, I suspect it was joined by many others. The timing was just prior to the planned 2016 fee hike. The increase in fees went ahead….we’ve altered our plans accordingly. The government philosophy seems to be that the business travelers will pay the fees regardless of amount to avoid the inconvenience associated with making other airport/ airline arrangements. They may be correct…until there’s a downturn in the economy…

  19. I recall a while back that Inverness airport was exempt from APD, is that still true (as it is In Scotland…

  20. What about having flights out of Inverness as a hub with local connections to Edinburgh & rest of UK? Selling it as separate tickets. That would avoid APD & increase tourism in the Scottish north

  21. I visit Scotland quite often to see my friends there. I always book a £10 Ryanair flight GLA-DUB to avoid APD and then catch my onward long-haul flight from DUB.

    Thanks, Ryanair 🙂

  22. @ Gordon

    “APD makes no difference to business … flyers who are mostly not sensitive to price”

    I always wonder what sort of businesses people are describing when they write things like this. Probably businesses that will go bust in the foreseeable future. *Every* organisation I’ve worked for has had strict rules about expensing, though the best strike a balance between cost and convenience (since convenience=time and time=money).

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