Norwegian to close long-haul; lost €159 million in 2019, RDC shows
Norwegian has revealed that it will not resume long-haul operations. Its future will now revolve around its core: Boeing 737 operations within Europe and primarily to, from, and within Scandinavia.
In 2019, Norwegian had over 6.6 million seats on long-haul routes, defined here as 5,000 kilometres or more. Almost all (98%) of all long-haul seats were by widebodies.
Norwegian retreating to core is inevitable – and very sensible
Norwegian ending long-haul and retreating to core is inevitable and very sensible.
After all, 20+ long-haul routes had already ended in the year or so to March 2020 as the carrier focused on shallower growth, proven routes, and a move towards stronger financial performance.
Indeed, RDC Aviation’s Apex platform shows that Norwegian’s consolidation in 2019 resulted in its long-haul network reducing losses from an estimated EBIT of -€351 million in 2018 to -€159 million a year later.
In contrast, short-haul achieved approximate profitability of €234 million in 2019.
As Norwegian’s CEO said, “Our short-haul network has always been the backbone of Norwegian and will form the basis of a future resilient business model.”
The question of the carrier’s need to veer so greatly from its foundation – jeopardising its entire existence – must be asked. Long-haul lower-cost has always been fraught with extreme difficulty.
Read more: Norwegian 56% lower fare to US than airlines from Heathrow.
Norwegian had 70 long-haul routes in 2019
Norwegian’s 70 long-haul route were across 18 countries, OAG data shows.
This includes two very long intra-Europe services: Oulu – Tenerife South (5,034 kilometres) and Tromso – Gran Canaria (5,135). Both had block times of around seven hours. It also includes Oslo – Dubai (5,140 kilometres).
Some 40 airports were involved with its long-haul service. London Gatwick was by far the most significant, with over 2.5 million seats – nearly four in ten of its total. Its Gatwick base will now close.
Gatwick had 17 routes, including Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, and Singapore. In 2019, it served 14 US airports, including Oakland and Fort Lauderdale, before shifting – for higher yields – to San Francisco and Miami.
Norwegian’s long-haul operation revolved around the US with nine in ten seats. New York JFK was key with nearly 1.8 million across 10 routes as far as Athens.
The UK – USA had one-third of its capacity, with Gatwick – JFK by far its top route. It had over 600,000 seats – well over twice as many as second-placed Paris CDG – Los Angeles – because of up to three-daily B787-operated services.
Norwegian was the fifth-largest carrier between Europe and the US, behind Lufthansa but ahead of Virgin Atlantic. It was the largest non-affiliated operator.
Norwegian’s network summary
|Norwegian’s top long-haul routes||Two-way seats (2019)||Top airports||Two-way seats (2019)||Top countries||Two-way seats (2019)||Top country-pairs||Two-way seats (2019)|
|Gatwick – New York JFK||611,322||Gatwick||2,528,808||USA||5,893,699||UK – USA||2,170,590|
|Los Angeles – Paris CDG||262,075||New York JFK||1,756,688||United Kingdom||2,548,842||France – USA||970,107|
|Gatwick – Los Angeles||259,632||Los Angeles||1,053,333||Spain||978,493||Spain – USA||964,357|
|New York JFK – Paris CDG||255,352||Paris CDG||965,315||France||970,107||Italy – USA||431,400|
|Amsterdam – New York JFK||249,350||Barcelona||606,793||Norway||470,666||Norway – USA||338,336|
|Boston – Gatwick||247,370||Boston||479,161||Italy||431,400||Denmark – USA||279,170|
|Buenos Aires – Gatwick||239,304||Oslo||464,714||Sweden||371,226||Sweden – USA||273,269|
|Gatwick – Orlando||194,112||Rome||431,400||Denmark||353,066||Netherlands – USA||249,350|
|Newark – Rome Fiumicino||193,384||Fort Lauderdale||417,221||Thailand||259,177||Argentina – UK||239,304|
|Madrid – New York JFK||191,258||Oakland||389,080||Netherlands||249,350||Brazil – UK||104,780|
|Source: OAG Schedules Analyser.|
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