Norwegian axes Edinburgh-US flights

Norwegian Air has confirmed it will scrap US flights from Edinburgh, blaming the Scottish government’s failure to act on a pledge to cut Air Passenger Duty (APD).

Budget long-haul carrier Norwegian launched three routes from Edinburgh to the US last year, flying to Stewart in New York State, Providence in Rhode Island and Bradley in Connecticut.

The carrier confirmed it will also axe flights from Edinburgh to Barcelona and Tenerife and it is expected to close its base at the airport. The flights will end next March.

Norwegian had previously announced the end of the Bradley service and revealed in April that the Providence flights would be grounded from next month.

The cuts will leave the airline serving just three destinations from Edinburgh – Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo.

Norwegian said the US routes had been launched “with the prospect of a reduction in air passenger taxes that was unfortunately postponed and this has led us to fully withdraw our transatlantic services.

“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 Scottish National Party (SNP) pledged to halve APD, in advance of scrapping the tax “when resources allow”, after tax-raising powers were devolved to Holyrood in 2016. But the SNP’s failure to win opposition support or secure EU approval means the plans have stalled.

A Norwegian spokesman said: “APD was the main factor as it meant fares were higher than we’d like, which affected the profitability of these routes. None of these summer 2019 flights are on sale.”

An Edinburgh Airport spokesman said: “This is desperately disappointing, entirely caused by a failure of the Scottish Government to live up to its commitment.”

Norwegian also announced the end of its Gatwick-Singapore service this month, with flights ceasing from January, and confirmed plans to sell or divest orders for more than 100 aircraft.

In an interview this week, Norwegian boss Bjorn Kjos revealed the airline is seeking a replacement chief executive as he plans to step down in two years.

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