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Norwegian Air Exits Long-Haul International Markets, Focuses on Europe

Norwegian Air Exits Long-Haul International Markets, Focuses on Europe
Joe Cortez

The ultra-low-cost international service provided by Norwegian Air has come to an end. After the pandemic forced the carrier to ground their fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners, executives announced they have no intention of activating them, instead turning their focus on the European market.

Just over a year after announcing a plan to increase flights between the United States and Europe, Norwegian Air is pulling out of the ultra-low-cost international market. In a press release, executives for the company announced the permanent end to long haul service with their fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

COVID-19 Continues to Create a “Highly Uncertain” Outlook for Norwegian Air

In their release, the carrier notes their Dreamliners have been grounded since March 2020, due to the novel Coronavirus outbreak. Because the international marketplace remains “highly uncertain,” Norwegian is going to retract their network to their core Nordics business, operating 50 Boeing 737 aircraft in 2021. If all goes well, the airline hopes to expand to 70 narrow-body aircraft by 2022.

“Under these circumstances a long-haul operation is not viable for Norwegian and these operations will not continue,” the airline said in a press release. “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.”

Looking towards their future, the restructuring plan will focus on reducing debt and raising new capital. Norwegian wants to reduce their debt by $2.36 billion, while raising up to $590 million across several methods. The airline is in talks with the Norwegian government to join in the airline, which would make it a partially-state-owned carrier.

Flyers who have tickets booked with the airline for future travel on cut routes will be contacted directly by Norwegian, and their fares will be refunded.

Second European Ultra-Low-Cost International Carrier to Fold Long-Haul Operations in Nearly 3 Years

With their restructuring, Norwegian is the second European carrier catering to ultra-low-cost carriers to drop long-haul operations in nearly three years. In March 2019, WOW Air went bankrupt, and despite an attempt to recover in July 2019, they never flew again. In June 2020, former WOW executives founded PLAY Air as another international ultra-low-cost carrier, but have yet to operate a flight since their announcement.

View Comments (6)


  1. edgewood49

    January 15, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    Sad yet another victim of the international travel shutdown but then one should look to Sir Freddie discount airline Peoples soon to follow and countless others who all fail when there was a hiccup in the market. Delta just announced they “dropped” nearly 16 Billion over the past year. Now I am sure everything including the
    kitchen sink” is in those numbers mostly for “optic’s” never the less it will be a very long time before a sustained travel both domestic and international comes back.

  2. GuzziQuota

    January 16, 2021 at 6:53 pm

    sad news

  3. DManzaluni

    January 17, 2021 at 7:14 am

    Their last minute tickets were always prohibitively expensive and of dozens of times I tried to fly on Norwegian, I only managed it once! They just didnt seem to recognise unsold seats to be a fungible asset, like every single other airline out there.

    But that says nothing, of course, about how they would react to there being NO passengers out there because of the pandemic.

  4. OZFLYER86

    January 18, 2021 at 6:34 pm

    doesn’t mean long haul low cost can’t work. Canada 3000 were probably the 1st long haul LCC & they were apparently doing very well, prior to SEP11. Apparently the day before SEP11, was their best sales day ever.

  5. jsmiler

    January 19, 2021 at 10:17 am

    If the passenger has a voucher or credit from Norwegian, which are now unusable, they are out of luck….No Refund

  6. RandyN

    January 19, 2021 at 11:30 am

    Sorry to hear this, but we knew it was coming.

    Norwegian was my go-to airline for daytime flights returning from Europe, when I didn’t want to sleep and a lie-flat seat would have been wasted. The planes were new, the premium seats were comfortable and the service was outstanding.

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