Norwegian Air Shuttle who have revolutionized air travel between Europe and North America applying a low cost carrier model is slashing several routes to the state. While that’s good news for legacy full service airlines, it’s bad news for cost conscious travelers who don’t fly premium services across the Atlantic and could hurt Florida’s tourism industry.
In a process which began last year due to mounting financial losses and was intensified by the 737MAX groundings, Norwegian has been forced to trim a large percentage of its transatlantic flights. Service from Fort Lauderdale to Copenhagen, Rome and Barcelona are now seasonal only. Service to Madrid as well as to Point-a-Pitre and Fort-de-France in the French Caribbean have been permanently cut. From Orlando service to Stockholm is permanently cut while Oslo is now seasonal.
Service from Miami, Tampa and Orlando to London and from Fort Lauderdale and Orlando to Paris will remain year-round. Flights from Fort Lauderdale to Stockholm and Oslo will also continue to be flown throughout the year.
The cutbacks from Norwegian are not good news for consumers in Florida nor our state’s tourism industry. The airline has made flying to and from Florida far more affordable and accessible. Norwegian has also allowed business people who not ordinarily travel in person to or from Florida to do so, boosting the economy here.
While legacy carriers have dropped fares to match Norwegian you can have no doubt they will raise fares again if the discount airline disappears and the service levels of European legacy carriers have continued to decline.
We should all hope that these most recent cutbacks allow Norwegian who were in extreme expansion mode the last several years to stabilize and become stronger. Otherwise consumers and Florida’s economy will lose.