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Norwegian is in the middle of a major rationalization program as it looks to get its finances in order and to stem the outflow of cash that has caused so much concern over recent months.
The airline posted its full-year results just the other day and in the fourth quarter of 2018 it managed to lose over $200m in poorly executed fuel hedges alone….so things haven’t been looking good.
Some of the actions Norwegian has already taken to improve its position include refinancing aircraft, selling aircraft, announcing a rights issue, cutting back on lounge access for some passengers and even cutting back on the free cocktails and premium spirits in its premium cabin.
But the truth is that the airline needs to do more.
Norwegian has been expanding its route network at a rate I’m not sure anyone has ever seen before and it has bitten off more than it can chew – it has too many routes on which passenger loads do not appear to be justifying the service and its aircraft would be better employed elsewhere.
The airline clearly realizes this and has recently ramped up the rate at which it’s culling routes and cutting back flights from its network. The latest casualties come in the form of Norwegian’s Caribbean routes and its routes out of Paris Orly. [HT: Routes Online]
Once the 2018/19 season is over the 8 seasonal routes that Norwegian currently operates will be removed from the airline’s network – they’re not coming back at the end of this year.
The Caribbean routes being cut are:
- Fort-de-France – Cayenne (operated 4x/week)
- Fort-de-France – Ft. Lauderdale (operated 4x/week)
- Fort-de-France – Montreal (operated 3x/week)
- Fort-de-France – New York JFK (operated 6x/week)
- Pointe-a-Pitre – Cayenne (operated 4x/week)
- Pointe-a-Pitre – Ft. Lauderdale (operated 3x/week)
- Pointe-a-Pitre – Montreal (operated 3x/week)
- Pointe-a-Pitre – New York JFK (operated 6x/week)
These are serious cuts for the airline to be making but, with the benefit of hindsight, one has to wonder who thought that there were good profits to be made on intra-Caribbean flights for an airline like Norwegian and who thought a route like Fort-de-France to JFK could sustain a 6x/week schedule?
These cuts will free up a number of Norwegian’s 737-800 aircraft so it will be interesting to see where these will be redeployed or if Norwegian has other plans for the aircraft.
A further Norwegian route cut (which I hadn’t noticed until today) has happened at Paris Orly out of where the airline once offered a 6x/week service to New York’s Newark airport.
Norwegian was using an Airbus A330-200 which it had leased from Wamos Air on this route but, as of 10 January 2019, this route is no longer operational and won’t be coming back.
Norwegian continues to operate a number of routes out of Paris Charles de Gaulle airport (including a route to New York) and the airline has said that the Orly cuts were to allow it to consolidate all its Paris operations out of CDG….except that this isn’t a consolidation it’s a reduction.
I highly doubt that these are the last routes that we’ll see Norwegian cut but the reality is that this is what has to happen if the airline is to survive….and we need it to survive.
Norwegian is probably the last thing that’s preventing the major airline cartels (IAG, Lufthansa Group, Air France/KLM) and the US legacy carriers from doing whatever they feel like doing with transatlantic airline fares so it’s imperative that it survives to fight another day.
I’m keeping all my fingers crossed that we start to see Norwegian turning things around sooner rather than later.