Norwegian Plans to Exit Thailand, Increases Focus on Europe – US Routes

Earlier this week, Norwegian announced that it wouldn’t be serving Thailand out of Scandinavia starting with the 2020 summer schedule. Instead, it will use the freed up aircraft to increase frequencies on its routes between Europe and the United States.

With that, Dubai will become the airline’s easternmost destination.

Norwegian Plans to Exit Thailand, Increases Focus on Europe - US Routes
Norwegian will cut flights from Copenhagen and Stockholm to Thailand. (Credit: Norwegian)

Norwegian to Exit Thailand in March 2020

Currently, Norwegian serves two destinations in Thailand – Bangkok and Krabi – out of its three major Scandinavian hubs.

It serves Bangkok three times a week from Oslo in Norway, four times a week from Stockholm in Sweden, and twice a week from Copenhagen in Denmark. It serves Krabi twice a week from each of the three cities.

The airline has, however, announced on November 27, 2019, that it will be axing those routes from March 29, 2019. It will also be discontinuing its flights from Copenhagen and Stockholm to the United States – consolidating its long-haul operations out of Scandinavia in Oslo.

Matthew Wood, Senior Vice President – Commercial at Norwegian, explained the move:

Scandinavia is not large enough to maintain intercontinental flights from Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen.

According to the announcement, Norwegian will use the freed up aircraft to increase frequencies on some of its routes from major European cities outside of Scandinavia like London and Paris to the United States – one of its most important markets.

The airline also said that it is still considering whether or not to restart flights from Oslo to Bangkok and Krabi next winter. At this point, though, Dubai is set to become the airline’s easternmost destination from the end of March 2020.

This announcement comes amid Norwegian’s troubles with Boeing aircraft. Some of its 787s are grounded due to issues with Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, and its 737 MAX aircraft are unusable due to the global grounding.

Once Norwegian discontinues its Thailand flights, none of the three Scandinavian cities will have a direct link with Krabi. Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm will continue to have daily non-stop flights to Bangkok thanks to Thai Airways, though.

As for low-cost connections between Europe and Southeast Asia, Scoot will be the only airline offering them. The Singaporean low-cost airline currently serves Athens twice a week and Berlin three times a week.

The Malaysian low-cost AirAsia X and Vietnamese low-cost Bamboo Airways are considering launching flights to Europe in the future as well. In case of AirAsia X, it would be a re-launch since the airline served Paris and London until 2012.

Summary

It’s unfortunate that Europe will lose one of its low-cost links with Southeast Asia. At the same time, however, it is understandable given that Norwegian is short on 787s since some of them are grounded – and will likely see better yields and loads on routes to the United States.

With that said, I hope that Norwegian will decide to at least re-launch the Thailand routes out of Oslo next winter. It could also acquire some Sukhoi Superjets and launch flights to the Far East… Or not.

Separately from that, it would also be nice to see some other Asian low-cost airline launch flights to Europe.

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