Thursday 23 May 2019

Norwegian to expand as its US to Dublin routes carry 250,000

Bjorn Kjos, chief executive officer of Norwegian Air Shuttle A
Bjorn Kjos, chief executive officer of Norwegian Air Shuttle A
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Scandinavian carrier Norwegian has carried 250,000 passengers on its transatlantic services out of Dublin - just 14 months after launching the routes to the United States.

It revealed the landmark figure after coming under fire this week from Belfast International Airport after it cancelled its services from Northern Ireland to the US.

Norwegian, whose CEO is Bjorn Kjos, has been beefing up services from Dublin and Shannon, while reducing operations out of Cork.

It's planning to increase capacity on its Dublin-Providence, Rhode Island service by 40pc next summer. It will offer a year-round daily service on the route.

It's also launching a route between Dublin and Toronto's Hamilton airport next summer, and has doubled the frequency of its service to New York's Stewart International from the capital.

Next summer it will operate a total of 28 flights a week between Dublin and North America.

At Shannon, Norwegian will operate five times a week to Stewart International next summer, and three times a week during the coming winter. It will operate four times a week from Shannon to Providence next summer.

At Cork, poor load factors prompted Norwegian to suspend its service from the city to Providence from next month.

It will operate the route again next summer, however. It's battling Aer Lingus, owned by IAG, and other carriers for business.

Earlier this week, Norwegian said it was cancelling its services from Belfast to Stewart International and Providence.

It blamed a lack of demand for the decision. A spokeswoman for Belfast International airport said it was "extremely disappointed" by Norwegian's decision to leave the Northern Ireland market.

She said that Norwegian's schedule of two flights a week from Belfast to the US was "neither flexible nor attractive enough to appeal to the local travelling public".

She added: "Regrettably the limited and inferior product offered by Norwegian was creating awareness within the market, but moronically channelling much greater levels of Northern Ireland passengers onto Dublin flights."

Norwegian has been battling to profitably translate its low-cost model into the long-haul market.

IAG has acquired a 4.6pc stake in the carrier, and has indicated that it's interested in buying the airline outright, but talks have not progressed between the pair.

IAG CEO Willie Walsh has said the airline group will ditch its shareholding in Norwegian if a takeover cannot be sealed by summer next year.

"If IAG acquires Norwegian, there's no way that they will pursue the loss-making expansion strategy pioneered by Norwegian," said Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary last week.

Irish Independent

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