Norwegian Air announced Thursday that it will scrap its low-cost long-haul routes and focus solely on domestic and European routes, due to the financial stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many Americans knew Norwegian Air for its affordable transatlantic flights. Through flash sales, Norwegian Air offered flights to Europe for as low as $84 one-way.
"We do not expect customer demand in the long haul sector to recover in the near future, and our focus will be on developing our short haul network as we emerge from the reorganization process," Jacob Schram, CEO of Norwegian, said in a statement Thursday.
The airline announced that it will pivot to focus on routes in Norway, across the Nordic countries, and to major European destinations.
"Our short haul network has always been the backbone of Norwegian and will form the basis of a future resilient business model," Schram said.
Norwegian Air is in talks with the Norwegian government about possible state participation in a new business plan, which would require cutting its fleet down from 140 aircraft to about 50. By 2022, that number could increase to 70.
Norwegian's financial woes began last year, at the start of the pandemic in March when its entire fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners was grounded and 40& of its long-haul flights were cut.
Passengers who had booked tickets aboard the canceled routes will be contacted directly and refunded.
Norwegian is not the only low-cost European airline to be affected by the pandemic. As a new strain of the virus has emerged, European travel restrictions have tightened with nearly 75% of European routes under restrictions — a higher percentage than at the height of the first wave last year, according to Reuters. Hungarian airline Wizz Air has halted its plans for expansion and is operating January capacity down 75%.
Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.
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