Norse Atlantic has adapted its network significantly this winter. It has cut Los Angeles from its network (the last flight is on October 16th) and reduced flights on half of its other routes. In all, it has slashed its winter schedule by 31%. It joins the previously eliminated Oslo to Orlando (the last flight is October 15th) and has already reduced Berlin to New York from 1x daily in summer to a sensible 3x weekly this winter.
From eight winter routes to six
Norse Atlantic, which achieved a 69% seat load factor in August due to significant capacity expansion and traffic not keeping pace, was widely expected to make more changes. It had expected to operate eight routes this winter, but – as of October 3rd – there will now be six, as summarized in the table below. Weekly flights have fallen from 36 to 25.
One of the six routes is Oslo to London Gatwick, which continues to New York JFK. This is operated solely because it launched Gatwick-JFK with its Norwegian air operator’s certificate. Now that it has been awarded a UK air operator’s certificate and operating license, this is likely to go – it’s no longer needed – as more UK routes are revealed.
It is also highly probable that it will soon announce its long-expected expansion from Paris CDG, while there is a strong likelihood of flights to Dubai – a good winter destination.
|Route||Winter flights last week||Winter flights now||% change|
|Berlin to New York JFK||3x weekly||3x weekly||0%|
|Berlin to Los Angeles||3x weekly||0||-100%|
|Berlin to Fort Lauderdale||3x weekly||3x weekly||0%|
|London Gatwick to JFK||1x daily||1x daily||0%|
|Oslo Fort Lauderdale||3x weekly||2x weekly||-33%|
|Oslo to Los Angeles||3x weekly||0||-100%|
|Oslo to London Gatwick||1x daily||1x daily||0%|
|Oslo to New York JFK||1x daily||3x weekly||-57%|
As of October 3rd, this is Norse Atlantic’s winter network (yellow). Los Angeles (red) has been removed. Image: GCMap.
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What does it mean?
It’s hardly surprising that Norse Atlantic is facing a difficult winter: most airlines are, even if they’re not long-haul, low-cost, an historically challenging strategy.
Moreover, airlines generally make money in the summer to offset losses in the winter. There’s also the aftermath of the pandemic. Next summer might not be ‘easy’ either: Norse will be one of four airlines on Gatwick-JFK, the highest number ever.
In response to the challenge, Norse has cut winter flights on half of its remaining routes to reflect the much lower-demand environment. After all, how would a 1x daily winter Oslo-JFK feasibly work with 338-seat B787-9s? Berlin-JFK couldn’t and was already reduced.
By reducing flights, fewer seats will be offered – more in line with demand. This means that seat load factor and revenue per available seat mile should improve and, hopefully, increase performance.
The route was introduced in mid-August. Photo: Norse Atlantic.
What will it do with its B787s?
Even though Norse secured its B787s at ‘record low’ lease rates, as mentioned frequently in its startup days, they still need to be paid for and used.
Might it target winter-seasonal routes? It has previously said the possibility of Dubai and secured slots at the airport. Or, as that season starts in less than a month, has that boat sailed?
Dubai is also a popular destination for Scandinavians; for a long time, even Norwegian served Dubai from Oslo, Stockholm, and Copenhagen with its B737-800s. And, if it could secure traffic rights, Berlin-Dubai is unserved and a big point-to-point market.
Given the winter season starts in less than a month, they’ll need to be quick with any winter-seasonal destinations. Photo: Norse Atlantic.
The seasonal shift?
A seasonal shift in capacity might work before refocusing on decently performing routes – and those with further potential – in the summer. It’s perhaps no coincidence that Norwegian used to serve Thailand; yes, it’s traditionally popular with Scandinavians, but it’s also winter-seasonal.
What do you make of it all? Let us know in the comments.