Norwegian Cancels Singapore Flights, Announces Domestic Argentina Operations

Norwegian has massively expanded their long haul route network over the past few years, especially adding plenty of flights between Europe and North America.

Singapore

Norwegian also has some long haul flights to other destinations, and one of these is from London (Gatwick) to Singapore. This is an interesting route because it is between two cities that are expensive to visit, so wouldn’t necessarily be the ideal choice for a low cost airline (noting they have made flights to New York work).

It’s also a route dominated by both Singapore Airlines and British Airways, which both have multiple frequencies each day. Qantas also once again operates flights between the two cities.

Both Singapore Airlines and IAG (British Airways’ parent company) have long haul, low cost arms, being Scoot and LEVEL, respectively. Neither airline has attempted to commence flights on this route with their low cost model, I suspect because they do not wish to lose prospective economy passengers who would otherwise pay for their full-service mainline flights, and the economics may not have worked for using a low cost model on this prized route.

Scoot does operate some flights from Singapore to Berlin and Athens (with rumours of Budapest to come) but these are largely leisure destinations Singapore Airlines doesn’t operate to. This makes sense so both the low cost and full service arms of the same airlines group are not competing for passengers on the same routes. I suspect this is why LEVEL doesn’t operate from London to New York, competing with British Airways.

Norwegian has announced that they will be discontinuing the four weekly flights from Gatwick to Singapore from January 12, 2019. They have said that this is due to network adjustments, i.e. that the plane(s) operating the service can be used more profitably elsewhere.

Passengers booked on these services will be offered either a refund, date change, or the option to fly to another Norwegian destination.

Argentina

Norwegian has announced they will commence domestic operations within Argentina from next month, with the first flights to be from a new hub in Buenos Aires (AEP) to the following destinations, daily, using Boeing 737-800 aircraft:

  • Cordoba
  • Mendoza
  • Iguazu
  • Bariloche
  • Neuquen
  • Salta

These flights will be operated by their Norwegian Air Argentina subsidiary. Cordoba and Mendoza are the first routes to operate, with the other domestic flights to be rolled out over the coming months.

Norwegian Argentina domestic routes (note they will operate from AEP not EZE airport)

Norwegian already flies from London to Buenos Aires (EZE).

Norwegian’s CEO has said of the news:

This is a great milestone for us in Norwegian. Our goal is to give everyone the opportunity to fly and these routes make it possible for Argentinians as well as Europeans and others to travel in Argentina in Argentina at a reasonable price.  The routes will contribute to increased tourism, more jobs and value creation in Argentina, a country where the flight offer has traditionally been limited.

Argentina has enormous potential and these routes are just the beginning of our plans in South America. Now we are looking forward to welcoming both Argentineans to other travellers on board our new, comfortable, more environmentally friendly aircraft.

I believe Norwegian is the best low cost carrier in Europe and I actively seek them out to fly on short haul routes around Europe. I would not hesitate to fly them within Argentina.

Bottom line

I’m not that surprised that Norwegian is cancelling flights to Singapore — such a premium route seemed an odd choice for their first destination in Asia. Air Asia X attempted direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to London many years ago and failed.

I’m really interested to see how this domestic venture in Argentina goes — I imagine if it works they will look to roll it out in other large countries in South America, assuming they can obtain the government approval to do so. Surely Brazil will be on their radar?

Would you fly Norwegian domestically within Argentina?

Comments

  1. This is one of those things where its tough on the customers. Jan 2019 is less than 4 months out and customers may have already committed to hotels and time off around those trips but now are out of luck and will have to find other flights.

    I’ve never flown them so I don’t have any personal stake in this but it is another headache for some people.

  2. Well, since SQ sometimes offer good promo for LHR – SIN roundtrip for SGD 800, almost the same as Norwegian with full benefit, no wonder this route is cancelled.

  3. Azul is a better airline than Norwegian. GOL not bad and competition is heating up between TAM and Avianca. I think they’d be well advised to stay out of Brazil.

  4. Hi James! Great article. The domestic flights in Argentina will be originating in AEP airport instead of EZE, just a minor fix to your gcm image.

    We are happy to see Norwegian start operations here in Argentina. Round-trip domestic prices start at $25 which is awesome for passengers!

    Keep up the good work here at OMAAT!

  5. @ Ariel – thanks for the kind words! I did wonder which BA airport Norwegian would use, given it is a low cost. The details on the new routes on AirlineRoute were a little vague on that!
    I’ve update the post to reflect this. Norwegian are still showing LGW-EZE flights next year – surely they will move this flight to AEP to allow customers to connect?

  6. To be honest I doubt they have very many bookings at all past the Xmas travel period and from the London end you can pick up BA for around the same price in their current sale

    But under EU regs they do need to offer a reroute – they don’t have anything suitable and arguably “comparable” conditions should be a direct flight so will be interesting to hear what they offer

  7. Ariel – thanks. “Which airport?” was going to be my question. That makes for truly horrible “connections” from LHR flights into EZE.

    There are reports elsewhere that Norwegian will start a LHR-GIG flight next year.

  8. Shifting their LHR-EZE flight to AEP would be brilliant – but I think unlikely. AEP is reserved for domestic and single-aisle international flights to/from Uruguay and some Brazil destinations.

    But anything to avoid the hell-hole of EZE when arriving in BsAs…

  9. Is the runway at AEP long enough to accommodate a 787 operating direct to/from LGW? This might be another consideration.

  10. Aeroparque’s Runway is 2100m long, too short for a 787 flying nonstop to LHR I guess, so they must use different airports. Besides, AEP is restricted to domestic and local international flights.

  11. Interesting. I imagine customers would have a good argument for forcing Norwegian to buy a ticket on another carrier. They are required to offer “alternative transportation to your final destination at the earliest opportunity.” If Norwegian has no alternate flight, the regulation seems clear. Obviously, if the prices are similar, it’d be easier to take the refund and book flights yourself.

  12. Re Singapore: we were booked Premium one way to SIN in late January, not trusting Norwegian to come up with anything similar as the price would be far higher, we asked for the refund on Friday and rebooked with Malaysian via KL in Economy with extra legroom seats for a lot less. Not quite the same product but flight times are similar outward. Allowing for the change of plane, the later arrival will suit slightly better for getting into our hotel room.

    Falling out of love with Norwegian at the moment, as we’ve already had flights to FLL changed firstly by several hours, and now to a Wamos airplane!

  13. As someone above noted, Norwegian will still need to use EZE for the long-haul flight, with pax connecting by ground if AEP is used for the domestic flights.

    Also, the runway at AEP is 6,900 feet and 787s need more runway than that.

  14. James – I don’t mean to sound harsh as you get a lot of undue criticism, but if you were confused about which airport they’re using you could have just gone on the Norwegian website, which would tell you within a few seconds!

  15. Hi James! Unfortunately AEP cannot accomodate a longhaul flight- It’s only a regional airport as others noted above. So the LGW-EZE flight won’t change.

    From what I’ve heard they have a pretty aggressive expansion plan which involves flying domestically from both AEP and EZE in the future. As for now, it seems that they’ll start out of AEP since that’s what loaded in their website.

    Hope this helps!

  16. Though saying that, I don’t buy into any of your analysis.

    Level is a brand new airline based in Barcelona. The fact they don’t fly London to Singapore doesn’t mean anything. Likewise, Scoot has only just started flying to Europe and AirAsiaX closed down loads of long haul routes at the time – long haul LCCs weren’t doing well back then and AirAsia was planning to restart London flights not too long ago but had issues with the new aircraft they were going to use.

    Finally, Argentina is nothing like Brazil whatsoever. Brazil has two large and well established LCCs, Argentina has one other brand new LCC. Norwegian has a decent chance to make it when in Argentina, it has no chance in Brazil.

  17. I am pretty sure AEP can’t handle a 787. I believe it’s more likely they’ll move local flights to EZE, given that AEP is mainly used by businesspeople, akin to LCY in London.

  18. I believe it’s not a matter of premium or not premium, but rather recognition. SIN-SYD and SIN-MEL are premium routes as well yet Scoot and AirAsia are doing really well on those routes. Norwegian doesn’t have enough presence and recognition as a reputable budget option to convince south East Asians that they are the way to go. Scoot and especially AirAsia have such a good reputation there for there and with a lower cost base flying from Asian bases, any attempts by a Western carrier would be futile. After all with price being equal, who wouldn’t prefer to fly the world’s best low cost carrier.

  19. Still waiting for the options from Norwegian airline tickets . Not yet offered new tickets on the bkk-lgw.flights only offered refund . Now with this flight sin-lgw gone ! . No cheap flights Asia to England ? ?

  20. AEP can’t handle a 787. It has some regional routes, but they are being moved to EZE because of capacity limits in AEP (50% already moved, the rest in early 2019).
    What’s rumored is that Norwegian may move domestic operations to EPA, but with all the drama surrounding that old/new airport, it’s unclear right now.

  21. Agree with Sam and Andy. They’re not being reasonable or upfront by trying to avoid booking on alternate carriers. A customer has a booking for that route and they need to honour that.

  22. In addition to the runway issue at AEP, immigration and customs at the airport may be ill-suited to process the amount of passengers on a 787 in one go. As pointed out by others, current operations are by single-aisle planes only. Moreover, a large percentage of international flyers are either Argentineans or neighbors who can use their IDs as travel documents, which presumably helps streamline operations.

  23. Norwegian won’t be able to change its London – Buenos aires flight to AEP as it’s becoming a domestic airport (only exception to Uruguay flights)

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