Norwegian Air cuts budget flights from Edinburgh and Belfast to America

But UK travellers have more options to Las Vegas, Munich and Japan

Tuesday 25 September 2018 17:45 BST
Norwegian is cutting several routes
Norwegian is cutting several routes (Getty Images)

Budget transatlantic flights from Edinburgh and Belfast are to end.

The low-cost airline, Norwegian, is blaming its retreat from Edinburgh on the Scottish government’s failure to cut tax, and recommending Belfast passengers head for Dublin, Shannon or Cork.

Norwegian will stop flying from Scotland’s busiest airport to Stewart International in upstate New York and Providence, Rhode Island, at the end of the winter season. The links served New York City and Boston respectively.

A Norwegian spokesperson said: “Following a comprehensive review of our services from Edinburgh, we have decided to withdraw routes to the New York and Boston areas, Barcelona and Tenerife with the last flights departing on 30 March 2019.

“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.”

The Independent has asked the Scottish government for a response.

Air Passenger Duty is £78 for long-haul economy flights from England, Wales and Scotland. Northern Ireland has a special rate of £13, because of competition from airports in the Irish Republic.

But the Norwegian links to Stewart and Providence end on 27 October.

“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,” the spokesperson said.

“New York and Boston-Providence remain well served by Norwegian from Dublin, Shannon and Cork with up to 33 weekly departures, giving customers in Northern Ireland an alternative for booking daily affordable flights to the US.”

IAG and Ryanair chief executives discuss their participation in Norwegian airlines expansion

Belfast International Airport called the decision “moronic”.

While Norwegian retreats, British Airways is expanding. BA is relaunching flights from Heathrow to Kansai in Japan, serving the cities of Osaka and Kyoto. Four weekly flights begin in April 2019.

The airline flew to the airport until 1998, but struggled to fill flights even when fares were cut to below £300 return. Prices for the revived link start at £599.

BA is also starting twice-daily services from London City Airport to Munich.

Travellers from UK regional airports aiming for Las Vegas will get a new option when KLM starts flight from Amsterdam to the Nevada city in June 2019.

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