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Why multiple airlines are cutting flights to and from Norway this winter

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6 Oct, 2022 Updated Thu 6 Oct 2022 10:48 CEST
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Widerøe is among the companies that announced flight route cuts this Winter. Photo by Tom Gulbrandsen / Widerøe / Press

In recent weeks, multiple airlines flying to and from Norway – including Flyr, Norse Atlantic Airways, and Widerøe – announced cuts to flight routes.

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The aviation industry has experienced a couple of extremely rough years.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated travel restrictions led to a drastic increase in air passengers worldwide.

The aftereffects of two years of the pandemic can still be felt at airports in Scandinavia and beyond.

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Just as things were starting to look up in early 2022, a multitude of new crises emerged, as Russia invaded Ukraine and energy prices (and overall prices, too) spiralled out of control.

Not surprisingly, these external shocks are shaking up the aviation industry once again, and a number of flight routes within, from, and to Norway this Winter has been affected.

Flyr, Norse Atlantic Airways, and Widerøe have already announced cuts in their flight routes, while industry experts expect SAS and Norwegian to follow suit.

Flyr cuts domestic flights

Earlier this week, Norwegian airline Flyr announced it is cutting its domestic routes offer in Norway in a bid to save around 400 million kroner ahead of the Winter season.

In a press release, Flyr pointed out that the Winter period is likely to be very challenging, with a "record number of interest rate increases," "overall high price growth," "very high electricity prices," and "persistently high fuel prices."

The sum of these challenges, the company believes, will lead to fewer people traveling in the months ahead. Furthermore, the airline also plans to lay off employees to cut costs.

"By implementing these measures, we will be well positioned to come back in full force in the Spring and Summer," Flyr's CEO Tonje Wikstrøm Frislid said.

Norse Atlantic Airways limits flight offer between Norway and USA

On Tuesday, passengers in Norway planning trips to the USA this Winter were disappointed to find out that Norse Atlantic Airways has decided to cut its number of overseas trips due to falling demand.

The airline will stop operating its route between Oslo and Orlando from October 15, while the Los Angeles – Oslo route will stop running a day later, on October 16.

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Weekly departures on the Oslo – New York and Oslo – Fort Lauderdale routes will be reduced from seven to three and three to two departures a week, respectively.

Luckily, the daily route from Oslo to New York, via London Gatwick, will stay in place, but the flight time will be slightly longer than before.

Widerøe cuts mostly affect commercial routes

Despite reporting a new passenger record for September, Widerøe is cutting its flight offer as part of its preparations for a harsh Winter with high fuel prices and weak market prospects.

"We are not satisfied with what we see in the market going forward. The (measures aimed at) cooling off the Norwegian economy are very effective, and not surprisingly, they have also affected the demand for air travel," commercial director at Widerøe, Christian Skaug, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

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Widerøe has an agreement with the state which states that they must operate a certain number of routes in order to provide service to people living in Norway's rural areas.

These routes are unlikely to be affected to a notable extent, but commercial routes will be characterised by fewer departures in the coming months.

SAS and Norwegian also expected to cut flights

Aviation industry analyst Hans Jørgen Elnæs at Winair told NRK that he also expects route cuts from other airlines.

"There is no surprise or drama in this… It makes sense that airlines plan to reduce capacity in the Autumn and Winter in the (current) situation," Elnæs says, adding that these decisions are influenced by the ongoing war in Europe, the overall pressure on prices, and tighter personal finances for many passengers in Norway.

All of these factors reduce demand, the expert believes.

Elnæs also commented on Norse Atlantic's decision to cut routes between Norway and USA.

"This is also a result of declining demand. I expect that SAS, Norwegian, and Flyr will make similar cuts in the future."

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2022/10/06 10:48

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