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Widerøe Cuts 4,000 Flights From Short-Haul Network in Norway

Widerøe Dash-8 aircraft at Leknes airport in Norway

Remote communities across Norway are in shock as the Norwegian domestic airline Widerøe announces major cuts. A spokesperson says they are in a “desperate situation.”

When hearing about a struggling airline making cuts in Norway, most people think of Norwegian. After all, the airline has been on life support for more than a year now. Cuts to its US-Europe schedule were swiftly followed by cuts to many intra-Europe routes.

However, the latest airline to announce cuts has come out of the blue. It's Widerøe, the airline best known for providing a vital air connection to some of Norway's smallest and most remote communities.

On Monday, Widerøe announces it will be cutting 15 percent of its commercial flights in its Norwegian short-haul network. That means a total of 4,000 departures per year. The changes take effect from 4 May, 2020.

Widerøe Dash-8 airplane approaching Bodø airport

Northern Norway hit particularly hard

Widerøe's cuts mainly impact northern Norway, in particular routes to and from Bodø and Tromsø. The hardest hit of the region's small airport is Evenes, also known as Harstad/Narvik. Several direct routes from Oslo to northern Norway have also been cut.

Read more: Domestic Flights in Norway

The cuts do not impact any of Widerøe's public service obligation routes, for which the airline receives a payment from the state to operate. However, some of the routes being cut will have a major impact on communities. As such, the airline is recommending the Ministry of Transport include them in future tenders.

Tomas Norvoll is the leader of Nordland county council. He told NRK the cuts are “incredibly troublesome” for a region that depends on air links between cities. He believes the route between Bodø and Evenes should now receive a subsidy and be put out for tender.

New Widerøe jet
One of the new Widerøe Embraer jets

Increased fees to blame

Widerøe CEO Stein Nilsen says the cuts are unfortunate, but they had no choice. In a press release, he claimed the airline is in a “desperate situation”:

“We know that the result of these cuts will be a transport standard in a number of district municipalities that are not close to meeting the travel needs. Still, we have no choice. We have had a dialogue with the Ministry of Transport and Communications and our recommendation is that several of these route areas be included as tenders.”

Nilsen added more details in an interview with NRK. He highlighted the controversial passenger tax that Ryanair blamed for their withdrawal from Rygge Airport, which ultimately led to its closure.

Since the introduction of the passenger tax in 2016, we have been struggling to find profitability on the shortest routes with the smallest aircraft. The negative trend has intensified over the years,” he said. He also blamed a sharp weakening of the Norwegian krone, an ageing aircraft fleet and the general market development in Norway.

Widerøe Bombardier Dash 8-100 Aircraft
Bombardier Dash 8-100 (Photo: Widerøe)

The affected routes

From 4 May, 2020, the following changes will be implemented:

Bodø – Evenes: cancelled

Andenes – Evenes: cancelled. Andenes – Bodø to fly direct and via Stokmarknes. Total departures Bodø – Andenes to remain the same

Bodø – Svolvær: 0650 departure from Bodø on Mondays and Tuesdays cancelled.

Svolvær – Bodø: 0730 departure from Svolvær on Mondays and Tuesdays cancelled.

Bodø – Mo i Rana: 0625 departure from Bodø on Thursdays and Fridays cancelled.

Mo i Rana-Bodø: 0715 departure from Mo i Rana on Thursdays and Fridays cancelled.

Florø – Oslo: 0925 departure from Florø on Thursdays and Fridays cancelled.

Bergen – Florø: 2200 departure from Bergen cancelled Wednesday thru Friday.

Florø – Bergen: 0630 departure from Florø on Thursdays and Fridays cancelled.

Tromsø – Vadsø: 1025 departure from Tromsø on Sundays cancelled.

Vadsø – Tromsø: 1155 departure from Vadsø on Sundays cancelled.

Tromsø – Alta: 0820 departure from Tromsø cancelled on all weekdays.

Alta – Tromsø: 0915 departure from Alta cancelled on all weekdays.

Oslo – Hovden (Ørsta-Volda): 0800 departure from Oslo cancelled on all weekdays (from 1 April).

Hovden – Oslo: 0925 departure from Hovden cancelled on all weekdays (from 1 April).

Tromsø – Hammerfest: 1620 departure from Tromsø cancelled Mondays thru Thursdays.

Hammerfest – Tromsø: 1720 departure from Hammerfest cancelled Mondays thru Thursdays.

Oslo – Sandnessjøen: Direct route cancelled October thru March. Remains in operation mid-April thru September and selected departures at Easter and Christmas.

Oslo – Brønnøysund: Direct route cancelled October thru March. Remains in operation mid-April thru September and selected departures at Easter and Christmas.

Oslo – Mo i Rana: Direct route cancelled October thru March. Remains in operation mid-April thru September and selected departures at Easter and Christmas.

Oslo – Svolvær : Direct route cancelled in October and March. Remains in operation mid-April thru September and selected departures at Easter and Christmas.

Oslo – Leknes: Direct route cancelled in October and March. Remains in operation mid-April thru September and selected departures at Easter and Christmas.

Oslo – Namsos: Direct route cancelled in October, November, December and March. Remains in operation mid-April thru September and selected departures at Easter and Christmas.

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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a freelance writer for technology companies in Scandinavia.

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