Norwegian Axes All Flights to Caribbean
Amid a constant flurry of cost-cutting measures, budget airline Norwegian announced Tuesday it will stop all of its Caribbean routes by March 31.
After a period of fast expansion, the now-cash-poor carrier has been recently on a mission to slow its growth and focus on turning a profit. Norwegian reported huge losses in 2018, totaling a net loss of 1.5 billion Norwegian kroner ($175 million USD).
“Going into 2019, we will enter a period of slower growth and fewer investments, while constantly looking for new and smarter ways to improve our efficiency and offer new products and services to attract new customers,” Norwegian CEO Bjørn Kjos said on the airline's earnings call.
The carrier said that as part of that strategy, it is terminating all flights to the Caribbean. Since 2015, Norwegian has operated flights to Martinique's Fort-de-France (FDF) from New York JFK, Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Montreal (YUL).
The carrier also served Guadeloupe's Pointe-à-Pitre International Airport (PTP), also from JFK, FLL and YUL. Fares on the Caribbean routes started at about $100 one-way.
Norwegian spokesperson Anders Lindström said in a statement that the company was "sad to see the end of our French Caribbean operations,"
“While our routes to Guadeloupe and Martinique have performed fairly well, with cost-cutting measures as a priority and aircraft utilization in focus, it is not financially sustainable as a European airline to each winter season move operations — aircraft, pilots and cabin crew — from Europe to these islands," Lindström said. "Norwegian has had a great support from our partners, the tourist boards and airports, but the service will end on March 31, and not return for the 2019/20 winter season or beyond. Both Guadeloupe and Martinique are hidden gems in the Caribbean and great tourist destinations, and we truly hope a US-based carrier will be able to step in and fill the gap as we have significantly increased the awareness of these two wonderful islands.”
The routes' seasonal service ends on March 31, so there will be no immediate effect, such as cancellations, on passengers.
Norwegian's financial situation has been rocky for months now — so much so that at the end of 2018 it published a statement denying rumors it would shutter at the close of the year. Executives with the carrier have blamed the financial hardships on high fuel prices, strong competition and the extensive problems its faced with Rolls Royce engines on its Boeing 787 Dreamliners. But the airline seems confident that if it cuts costs, it can stay afloat.
Nonetheless, if you are booking a flight with Norwegian in the near future, you might want to purchase the fare with a credit card that offers trip protection in case the worst scenario does play out for the Scandinavian carrier.
Photo courtesy Norwegian.