It was announced this morning that Norwegian Air will cease its long haul program.
The troubled airline has barely flown since March 2020. Going forward, they will operate up to 50 Boeing 737 aircraft on short haul flights within Europe. By 2022, Norwegian hopes to increase this to 70 Boeing 737 aircraft.
The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected the entire aviation industry. Travel restrictions and changing government advice continue to negatively influence demand for long haul travel, and Norwegian’s entire Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet has been grounded since March 2020. Future demand remains highly uncertain. Under these circumstances a long haul operation is not viable for Norwegian and these operations will not continue. The consequence of this decision is that the board of directors of the legal entities employing primarily long haul staff in Italy, France, the UK and the US have contacted insolvency practitioners. Norwegian will continue to assess profitable opportunities as the world adapts and recovers from the impact of COVID-19.
Those with future travel vouchers will be contacted in due course.
The airline had previously announced in November 2019 that they would cease long haul flying from both Copenhagen and Stockholm.
Norwegian started life as a short haul low cost carrier. This served the airline reasonably well. In 2013, the airline started long haul operations. In short, this turned out to be a bit of a disaster for the airline, right from the beginning. Initially, the planned 787 aircraft were delivered late. Therefore, initilly, the flights were operated with leased Airbus A340 aircraft.
The main base for Norwegian long haul was Gatwick Airport in the UK. The airline served a number of routes to the USA, South America and Asia from the airport.
Once the carriers Boeing 787 aircraft were delivered, it still wasn’t plain sailing. The fleet was hurt badly by poor reliablility, leading to flights suffering some major delays – sometimes stretching into days. Due to the fleet being fitted with Rolls Royce engines, this caused further issues for the airline, due to global issues with these engines.
Norwegian long haul currently has a fleet of 35 Boeing 787 aircraft, consisting of 8 787-8 and 27 of the larger 787-9. Quite where this sizable fleet will end up remains to be seen. Although I’d imagine they wont have too much trouble shifting them. The Boeing 787 is one of the more modern twin engined wide body aircraft, which will be the preferred option for airlines going forward.
Images © Norwegian Air