The airline blames Scotland for not cutting its taxes, while Belfast calls having to travel to Dublin for flights “unsustainable”.
Norwegian has opted to pull the plug on its transatlantic routes from both Edinburgh and Belfast, blaming the ongoing Air Passenger Duty as a “major factor” in the decision.
After a “comprehensive review” of its service from the Scottish capital, the airline says it is withdrawing its routes from there to the New York and Boston areas, as well as to Barcelona and Tenerife, with the last flights departing on March 20.
“Our affordable US flights were launched with the prospect of a reduction in air passenger taxes that was unfortunately postponed by the Scottish government, and this has led us to fully withdraw our transatlantic services,” a spokesperson said, as quoted by the Edinburgh Reporter.
“We continually monitor and evaluate routes across our network, and as such we have also decided to withdraw routes from Edinburgh to Barcelona and Tenerife allowing us to focus on maintaining better-performing flights to Scandinavia.”
The spokesperson continued that “as a growing airline, we are engaging with our Edinburgh-based crew about opportunities to relocate into other markets where air passenger taxes do not present a barrier to our transatlantic growth”.
“Norwegian will continue to offer Scottish consumers direct, affordable flights to Scandinavia. Our withdrawal of transatlantic services from Edinburgh is a case in point that a reduction in air passenger taxes can foster lower fares for passengers and improve Scotland’s global connectivity.”
As for Belfast, the spokesperson said that “following a comprehensive review of our services from Belfast in response to customer demand, we have decided to withdraw our routes from Belfast to the New York and Boston areas,” adding that “customers can still book flights between Belfast and the US on our website for travel up to October 27”.
New York and Boston-Providence remain “well served” by Norwegian from Dublin, Shannon and Cork with up to 33 weekly departures, the airline stressed, giving customers in Northern Ireland an alternative for booking daily flights to the US.
Before Norwegian launched its routes from Belfast, United operated Northern Ireland’s only direct link to the US for years before it was rendered unsustainable, the Belfast Telegraph reports.
A rescue deal for the route agreed by the Northern Irish government and United collapsed as it breached European Union rules.
A spokesperson for Belfast International Airport said she was “extremely disappointed” to lose the Norwegian service and added that it was an “unsustainable” situation that the people of Northern Ireland would now have to travel to Dublin for their nearest departure point for the US.