Norwegian Cancels A US Route & Cuts Back Two More

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Norwegian is the low-cost airline that has helped to shake up airfares across the Atlantic and it has been expanding at a rate that I’m not sure I’ve seen from an airline before….but are we now seeing the first signs of trouble for the carrier that’s been taking the game to the legacy airlines?

Norwegian has only been flying between Edinburgh (Scotland) and Bradley (Connecticut) since June 2017 but, as of 25 March 2018, the route is being mothballed.

The Scotsman has reported that Norwegian is citing the failure of the Scottish parliament to follow through on a promise to cut air passenger duty as the lead reason for the route’s closure but that may just be Norwegian trying to deflect attention from the actual issue – a distinct lack of passengers.

Tellingly it’s not just the Edinburgh – Bradley route that’s being affected.

Norwegian is also reducing service between Edinburgh and Stewart (NY) from 7x to 4x per week and  reducing service between Edinburgh and Providence (RI) from 5x to 3x per week.

a map of the world with a red line

The Scotsman cites an industry source when it says that load factors on all three routes have been poor and it offers up the following numbers (for the period between June and November 2017) in support of that:

  • Bradley – 71%
  • Stewart – 66%
  • Providence – 58%

Put simply, Norwegian was very obviously failing to get anywhere close to capacity on these routes and it’s hard to believe that this is all down to the air passenger duty issues.

Edinburgh is a city with a population of under 500,000 and, even if you take in the population within driving distance, that’s still not a huge number of people.

Add to that the fact that passengers are often put off by flights that land in the more out-of-the-way airports and you may start to see where Norwegian is hitting an issue.

With legacy airlines now offering low fares across the Atlantic on a frequent basis it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that travelers are opting to pay a little more (than Norwegian is charging) just to have the convenience of flying into major airports like JFK, Newark or Boston rather than Stewart and Providence.

a city skyline with a body of water

What I think airlines sometimes forget is that people are inherently lazy and as, we become more and more mollycoddled by modern technology and gadgets that make our everyday lives easier, we become less inclined to do anything that requires (or is perceived to require) any kind of effort…even if it means we save a little bit of cash.

Given the choice of flying in to Providence, Rhode Island or paying $50 – $100 more to fly into Boston, I suspect a lot of people would take the Boston option….even if it means connecting in London, Shannon or Dublin. That could be the real issue that Norwegian is facing.

Bottom Line

I like what Norwegian has helped to do to the transatlantic airline market and really hope the airline stays healthy and strong so that it can continue to keep the larger legacy airline in check….but I don’t think that offering flights between niche airports like Edinburgh and out-of-the-way airports like Providence, Stewart and Bradley is the way forward.


  1. It’s also interesting to read the local Connecticut paper online, where comments cite issues with the authorities there as being at fault.
    Edinburgh has Delta, United and AA flights direct to the US as well as Wow via Reykjavik and BA, Aer Lingus, AF, KLM, LH etc via their bases too, so Norwegian really do have a fight on their hands.
    I’ve met visitors to Edinburgh who have come from Massachusetts with Norwegian because it was a cheaper weekend trip than going to Cape Cod. I also have relatives who flew to Stewart in NY State from Edinburgh and enjoyed the trip, so hopefully the Norwegian flights to/from Edinburgh do survive.
    With the ‘national airline’ BA showing little to no interest of moving European , let alone intercontinental, flights from London to other parts of the UK we need to preserve the links afforded by Norwegian.

    • I couldn’t agree more about preserving the Norwegian routes especially, as you say, with BA seemingly determined to remain London-centric.

      Out of interest, were your relatives visiting Manhattan when they flew into Stewart and, if they were how did they get into the city?

      • I understand that they landed early evening and passed quickly through Border Control as there’s very little traffic. They then boarded a bus to Penn in mid-Manhattan and this took 75-90 mins. I’m told the last bus doesn’t leave until the last passenger of the evening boards.
        The bus journey doesn’t sound fun after a transatlantic flight, however the lengthy Border queues at JFK, Newark etc aren’t fun either. And, public transport into Manhattan from JFK could never be described as ‘integrated’.
        So my relatives were happy with the journey, service and price.

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