Norwegian to close long-haul; lost €159 million in 2019, RDC shows

Norwegian to close long-haul; lost €159 million in 2019, RDC shows

Norwegian had 70 long-haul routes in 2019 across 40 airports, with London Gatwick the top. Here it is celebrating the launch of Gatwick – Buenos Aires in February 2018.

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 to close long-haul; lost €159 million in 2019, RDC shows

Norwegian’s long-haul seats had 15% of the Group’s seat capacity across all AOCs, almost double the figure of two years previously. Source: OAG Schedules Analyser.

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 to close long-haul; lost €159 million in 2019, RDC shows

Despite the significant improvement to Norwegian’s long-haul financial result in 2019, the extent to which it still dragged the Group down is all too clear.  Source: RDC Aviation.

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.

RDC provides world-leading aviation data through its online apps, data services and APIs. Its Apex platform delivers airline route performance data (fares, profit, schedules, costs, CO2) while AirportCharges has detailed tariff data for over 3,000 airports as well as global en-route navigation fees and government taxes. Over 250 companies subscribe to RDC’s services; visit their website,, to find more information and contact details.



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