Network cuts leave Norwegian’s traffic down by over a fifth

Peter Krocka

Norwegian Air Shuttle total traffic dropped by 23% as it cut capacity by 27% in November 2019. However, the airline states the downturn is “in line” with its strategy and the lower traffic is compensated by growing unit revenue. 

In November 2019, Norwegian’s unit revenue grew for the eighth consecutive month and was up by 18% compared to November 2018. The load factor also increased by 4.2 % to 83%, the airline revealed in a statement on December 5, 2019. 

“[…] In line with our strategy of moving from growth to profitability, the planned capacity reduction has improved the figures,” said acting CEO and CFO of Norwegian, Geir Karlsen. “We have adjusted our route portfolio and capacity for the coming winter season and summer seasons to ensure that we are well positioned to meet the actual demand. The figures show that we continue to deliver on our strategy of moving from growth to profitability.”

In September 2019, Norwegian ceased operating six U.S. and Canada bound routes from Dublin, Cork and Shannon (Ireland). The routes were described as “no longer commercially viable” but the Boeing 737 MAX grounding also had a role in making the decision, the airline explained beforehand, in August 2019. 

In November 2019, Norwegian axed its long-haul network ever further and this time, the routes from Scandinavia were sacrificed. The carrier announced plans to cease flying to the United States and Thailand from Denmark and Sweden starting from March 2020.

“[…] we see that the long-distance market to and from Scandinavia is small, compared to large cities such as New York, London, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome,” Matthew Wood, Norwegian’s Senior Vice President Commercial explained at the time. 

Going even deeper into the underlying reasons, Wood has also pointed a finger to Rolls-Royce engine problems that had caused groundings of the carrier’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners in the past. 

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