a white airplane in the sky

Love cheap long haul flights? It’s a sad day for you, as Norwegian Air shutters its long haul operation.

Norwegian Air has been against the proverbial bandsaw for about as long as its highly leveraged operation has existed, particularly after aggressive long haul expansion into the USA and Asia, but today marks a sad day nonetheless, as budget conscious travelers lose the very reason prices were hitting record lows.

The acquisition of a massive long haul Boeing 787 fleet made sense in the boom times of unprecedented air travel, as airlines attempted to test the ‘Ryanair’ concept of low cost short haul, on longer flights with ‘low cost long haul’.

Whether you took a Norwegian flight or not, the impacts of the airline’s long haul flying were felt by lower prices across all airlines, as legacy airline operations were forced to compete. But as demand for ‘low cost long haul’ failed to reach its full potential, the picture for Norwegian Air became far more grim than its complicated finances. Covid-19 only acted as an accelerant.

Today, the airline sent word to employees at long haul bases in the USA and UK stating that as of January 15th, 2021, their jobs would be terminated. The result is over 1,000 jobs at London Gatwick alone.

a white airplane in the sky

Norwegian Shutters Long Haul

The roller coaster ride appears to becoming to a stop for Norwegian Air, at least for long haul.

In a letter to employees, Norwegian informed colleagues that to protect its core domestic and regional flying business, administrators made the decision to shut down and fold the long haul arms, including Norwegian Air UK, and various other spin offs in the USA, France, Italy and Asia.

Norwegian’s long haul Boeing 787 fleet has been grounded since March 2020, marking nearly a year without flying, as we approach February 2021.

What this means for you is that one of the most influential airlines responsible for dropping long haul flight prices, like those between New York and London is now gone, and prices are almost assured to rise. A drop in competition is bad news for low prices.

According to internal Norwegian Air documents seen by GSTP, effective Friday, January 15th, all employees will be placed into a collective redundancy process, and an FAQ with a with all unemployment and redundancy claims will be presented shortly.

What If I Have Ticket With Norwegian?

If you’ve got a long haul flight booked with Norwegian, that’s no longer going to be happening, sadly. It’s always recommended to book travel with a credit card, rather than a debit card, due to the protections credit cards carry, for goods not received, like a flight not taken because the airline goes bust.

Try contacting Norwegian directly about a refund, but if that fails, the next best move is to call your bank, and initiate a “chargeback” for the full amount, on the basis that you did not take any flights, and Norwegian won’t be able to deliver on the purchased item.

a city with tall buildings

Norwegian Improved Travel For All

Flying with Norwegian Air, you might not have been wowed by the experience, but you might not have hated it, either.

The idea was to create a “no frills” experience which allowed for unprecedented low fares to far away and desirable places. Things like meals, checked baggage allowance and other once standard items add quite a bit of heft to ticket prices.

With on demand food ordering from your seat back entertainment screen, the airline even brought innovation, while offering ‘choice’.

Without Norwegian Air, we’ll almost assuredly see long haul airfare rise, even just a little bit. As GSTP has noted before, travel will become more classist again, thanks to covid-19.

Legacy airlines may still be competitors, but there’s always been an element of “doing the least” when it comes to low fare competition among the “big guys”, so as to protect assets. As a true competitor without a network of legacy airlines and airline alliances, Norwegian brought a true outsider approach which won’t soon be seen again.

Low prices will continue to be a driving factor as airlines remain desperate to regain key flyers, and tempt the public back onto planes as vaccine rollout accelerates, but “how” low may change across the pond. In Europe, airlines like EasyJet, WizzAir and Ryanair will keep regional flying low, but there’s just not much low cost competition across the Atlantic now. That’s a shame for passengers.

Wishing all the best and future happiness to Norwegian’s 1000’s of good people who woke up to hard news today in regions across Europe and the USA.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Sad for the folks who lose their livelihoods. Not sad to see them go as a massive-miler traveller though: Their aircraft livery reminds me of their service and in-cabin experience: An untreated STD — raw and painful

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