Norwegian Air just announced a shocker. The carrier is halting seasonal service on routes between the United States and the Caribbean once the winter season is over. Travelers can currently use Norwegian to get to Guadeloupe and Martinique from New York and Fort Lauderdale. However, Norwegian Air is strapped for cash and looking to cut costs at the moment. The good news is that Norwegian isn’t cutting the routes prematurely this season. They will end on March 31. However, they won’t start back up again in October like they usually do.
Norwegian began flying to the Caribbean in 2015. Its routes to Guadeloupe and Martinique from New York and Fort Lauderdale have been popular. Years of rapid growth seem to be taking a toll on Norwegian. The airline has revealed that its routes to Guadeloupe and Martinique are actually performing well. However, recent losses mean that the carrier must find ways to cut costs. A spokesperson for the airline has stated that it is not currently financially sustainable for a European airline to move operations each winter to focus on Caribbean destinations. The task of refocusing aircraft, pilots and cabin crew members to the islands from Europe each year is a price-consuming and resource-consuming endeavor.
Norwegian’s decision to end popular seasonal routes to the Caribbean will surprise many travelers. The airline has been in expansion mode in recent years. Norwegian Air brought in new service to Rome from Los Angeles, Newark and Oakland less than two years ago. Norwegian also added new routes from Providence to Edinburgh, Belfast, Bergen, Cork, Dublin and Shannon at around the same time.
Norwegian Air’s shares dipped to a seven-year low earlier this week following a decision to offer extremely discounted shares. The airline was trying to raise $350 million that could be used to cover operational costs. It is no secret that Norwegian’s finances have been hurt by a combination of fare wars among European carriers and high fuel prices. The owner of British Airways and Iberia had been in talks to purchase Norwegian Air. However, talks collapsed once the details of Norwegian’s finances were revealed. Norwegian Air isn’t the only airline in Europe that’s suffering due to a highly competitive market and rising fuel costs. Insiders have been predicting for months that this would be a brutal winter for Europe’s low-cost carriers. British-based Flybmi was forced to file for bankruptcy last week. Flybmi was once the major carrier at Leeds Bradford Airport.
[Source: Norwegian Air]