January 16, 2018

Dillon: Aer Lingus' Dublin flight to remain as Norwegian Air quits Bradley

A Norwegian Air jet.

As Bradley International Airport plans to end short-lived Norwegian Air flights to Scotland, airport operators are anticipating an aircraft upgrade in 2019 for the Aer Lingus route to Dublin.

Norwegian Air, which began summer and winter flights to Edinburgh, Scotland in June, announced late Monday it would be ending the service March 24.

Ultra-low-cost service is incurring higher duty costs for passengers at Edinburgh Airport, and undercutting its low fares now that Scotland has postponed a reduction in air passenger taxes, said Norwegian Air Spokesman Anders Lindström. Its business model for U.S. flights to Edinburgh was predicated on seeing those taxes reduced, he said.

"It's very unfortunate, but it makes it almost impossible for us to make any money, and our motto is to provide affordable flights for everyone," Lindström said.

T.F. Green Airport in Providence and Stewart International Airport in New York – the two other airports Norwegian Air links to Edinburg -- will see service reductions, Lindström said, for the same reasons that Bradley service was eliminated.

The Norwegian route was the second trans-Atlantic flight out of Bradley. Aer Lingus' flight to Dublin remains solid, said Connecticut Airport Authority Executive Director Kevin Dillon.

"While we are certainly disappointed by the discontinuation of the Norwegian service, the CAA will continue moving forward with our strong partnership with Aer Lingus," he said. "The route between Dublin and Bradley has shown promising growth, and, after recent discussions, we are confident that the Bradley route is currently in line for an aircraft upgrade in 2019."

Aer Lingus is going to be replacing its fleet with more efficient Airbus aircraft that also offers more passenger amenities, Dillon said.

"Aer Lingus offers great connections throughout Europe," he added.

Norwegian Air doesn't break down passenger counts per route, Lindström said, "but it wasn't enough to keep going, it just made it impossible. It still leaves the possibility to return to Bradley with services in the future but it's too early to tell right now."

Dillon countered that, without revealing proprietary information, it's clear Norwegian Air had very good load factors, but needed more time to mature.

In a statement, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy expressed his disappointment, noting he remains "optimistic that Bradley Airport will continue to provide great options for [trans-Atlantic] travel for passengers throughout our region."

Whether Bradley can add any more trans-Atlantic routes remains to be seen, Dillon said.

"We're constantly out there talking to carriers," he said. "We want to be very protective of the international service we do offer because any route needs time to mature. We know there's other interest but we want to continue to be cautious."

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